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3.1 Making Referrals to Children's Social Care

AMENDMENT

In September 2017 this chapter has been updated throughout and need to be reread.


Contents

  1. Local Authority Responsibilities
  2. Making Referrals to Children’s Social Care
  3. The Content of Referrals
  4. Action Taken in Response to Referrals Received
  5. Decision Making
  6. Pre-Birth Referrals and the Response by Children’s Social Care
  7. Where There is or May be a Crime Committed
  8. Emergency Medical Action
  9. Emergency Protection
  10. Confidentiality
  11. Listening to the Child
  12. Child’s Consent to the Referral
  13. Parental Consent to the Referral
  14. Cross Boundary Referrals Regarding Significant Harm
  15. Extension of Timescales


1. Local Authority Responsibilities

The duties and responsibilities of Children's Social Work Services are outlined in relevant legislation, the most significant being the Children Act 1989, and guided by numerous other statutory guidance such as Working Together and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

For other emerging needs a range of early help services may be required, coordinated through an early help assessment, as set out above. Where there are more complex needs, help may be provided under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (children in need). Where there are child protection concerns (reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm) local authority social care services must make enquiries and decide if any action must be taken under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 imposes a general duty on Children’s Social Care (CSC) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are ‘in need’ and to promote the upbringing of children in need by their families by providing a range and level of services to meet those children’s needs.

Section 17 of the Children Act defines a child in need as a child:

  • Who is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services; or
  • A child whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of services; or
  • A child who is disabled.

Other agencies have a duty to co-operate with CSC in carrying out this duty to assess the needs of children and to provide services as necessary.

To determine the needs of a child and the support that they and their family may require, a qualified social worker from CSC will carry out a child and family assessment. The assessment will involve finding out and giving due regard to the child’s wishes and feelings regarding the provision of those services (as age and understanding appropriate). The assessment will also involve talking to parents, other family members where relevant, and professionals involved in the child’s life such as health visitor or school.

Whatever legislation the child is assessed under, the purpose of the assessment is always:

  • To gather important information about a child and family;
  • To analyse their needs and/or the nature and level of any risk and harm being suffered by the child;
  • To decide whether the child is a child in need (section 17) and/or is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm (section 47); and

to provide support to address those needs to improve the child's outcomes to make them safe.


2. Making Referrals to Children’s Social Care

This section assumes that you have identified child welfare concerns and discussed them with your line manager or Designated Professional and that you are concerned enough about a child to want to make a referral to Children's Social Work Services because you think they will be best placed to help. 

Professionals, employees, managers, helpers, carers and volunteers in all agencies must make a referral to Children’s Social Care if it is believed or suspected that:

  • A child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm; or 
  • A child would be likely to benefit from family support services with the agreement of the person who has Parental Responsibility.

Arrangements within an agency may be that a designated person makes the referral. However, if the designated or named person is not available, the referral must still be made without delay. A referral or any urgent medical treatment must not be delayed by the unavailability of designated or named professionals.

For further assistance, please refer to the attached flowchart which is taken from the guidance document "What to do if you're worried that a child is being abused". Professionals can also check the Multi-Agency Guidance on Threshold Criteria to help support Children, Young People and their Families in Solihull before making a referral to make sure the child gets the right service.

The flowchart describes the actions to be taken if you have concerns about a child's welfare. If there are concerns about the child's immediate safety as a result of the referral, the actions to be taken are described in Emergency Protective Action. If any Social Work Assessment is required, the actions to be taken are described in the Social Work Assessments Procedure.

When there are concerns about Significant Harm, then the referral must be made immediately. The greater the level of perceived risk, the more urgent the action should be. The suspicion or allegation may be based on information, which comes from different sources. It may come from a member of the public, the child concerned, another child, a family member or professional staff. It may relate to a single incident or an accumulation of lower level concerns.

The information may also relate to harm caused by another child, in which case both children, i.e. the suspected perpetrator and victim, must be referred.

The suspicion or allegation may relate to a parent, professional, volunteer or anyone caring for or working with the child - if so, see also Management of Allegation against People who work with Children and Young People where there are Cross Border Issues Procedure.

If you think a child or young person is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed then you must contact Children Social Work Services and Report Your Concerns.

When reporting a concern please be prepared to provide as much information about the child/young person as possible, including: the child/young person's name, age, gender, ethnicity, first language, address, who lives at the home; including other children and parents/carers, details of nursery, school, college. However, if you do not have all of this information it should not stop you reporting a concern.

Professionals who make electronic or written referrals should check to ensure safe receipt by Children’s Social Care at the earliest opportunity.

All professional referrers must confirm verbal and telephone referrals in writing within 48 hours, using the Children and Families Inter-Agency Referral Form. Click here to access Children and Families, Inter-Agency Referral Form.

In respect of Police referrals, a 392 report will be accepted with additional written information as required to support the quality of the referral and ultimately inform decision making.

A referral must be made regarding a new concern even if it is known that Children’s Social Work Services are already involved with the child/family. In such cases it may not be necessary to complete the interagency referral form but the referral must be confirmed in writing to the allocated social worker.

If the child is known to have an allocated social worker, referrals should be made directly to the allocated worker or, in her/his absence, the manager or a duty officer in the team. 

If the Police receive a referral concerning the welfare or safety of a child they will consult with the relevant Children’s Social Work team prior to taking any action unless to do so would leave a child at immediate risk of significant harm or seriously hinder a criminal investigation. 

Individual arrangements within an agency may be that a designated person makes the referral. However, if the designated person is not available, the referral must still be made without delay to Children’s Social Care.

A formal referral or any urgent medical treatment must not be delayed by the unavailability of designated staff.

Where the child/ children being referred to Children’s Social Care are part of a travelling community consideration must be given to whether they reside on an illegal campsite.

  • Where this is the case referrers should ensure that this information is included explicitly in the referral;
  • This is because councils are tasked with moving travellers from these sites rapidly but a child protection referral/ investigation should halt any eviction whilst inquiries are conducted;
  • Team Managers reviewing referrals in MASH should notify the Director of Public Health immediately if they decide that a child protection referral they receive is progressing to investigation. The Director of Public Health can then invoke a delay in eviction for the family to enable authorities to conduct the necessary inquiries.

The list of powers that LAs have to manage illegal campsites is available here - Dealing with illegal and unauthorised encampments  - in case there are queries about it.


3. Content of Referrals

The following issues will be asked of the referrer in the process of receiving the referral:

  • What support services you have already offered to the child or family to address the needs you have identified;
  • Why you think the time is right to refer the matter with Children’s Social Care;
  • What information you can give about:
    1. The child’s development needs;
    2. Parenting capacity;
    3. Social and environmental factors.
  • How you will remain involved with the family and if appropriate how you can help to introduce a social worker to the family, e.g. by a joint visit;
  • Whether the parents know that you are making the referral and whether they agreed to you making the referral;
  • Whether you have any information about difficulties being experienced by the family/household due to domestic abuse, mental illness; substance misuse, and/or learning difficulties;
  • Confirm any significant/important recent or historical events/incidents in the child or family’s life;
  • Clarify what information that the referrer is reporting directly and what information has been obtained from a third party;
  • Discuss any known or suggested information relating to the child or family being in contact with a Persons Posing a Risk to Children - West Midlands Regional Multi-Agency Guidance Manual (Including an Introduction and Summary);
  • Confirm what you think Children’s Social Care might do as a response to your referral.

It will also be important to establish how to re-contact the referrer if further clarification is required and clarify the extent to which the referrer’s anonymity can be maintained.

In addition to the questions the following information will need to be obtained for data purposes:

  • The referrer’s name and designation/relationship to the child;
  • The full name, date of birth and gender of child/children;
  • The full family address and any known previous addresses;
  • The identity of those with Parental Responsibility (no keyword required);
  • The names, date of birth and information about all household members, including any other children in the family and significant people who live outside the child’s household;
  • The name of the school the child attends, if applicable;
  • The ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents/carers;
  • Any need for an interpreter, signer or other communication aid;
  • Any special needs of the children.

In the case of suspected Significant Harm, (no keyword required) the following should also be provided in order to support appropriate and timely decision making for children identified as having suffered or being at risk of suffering Significant Harm: (Also see Section 47 Enquiries and Social Work Assessment Procedure).

  • The cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location;
  • The child’s account and the parents’ response to the concerns if known;
  • The identity and current whereabouts of any suspected/alleged perpetrator and or degree of contact with the child;
  • The child’s current location and emotional and physical condition;
  • Whether the child is currently safe or needs immediate protection because of any approaching deadlines (e.g. child about to be collected by alleged abuser);
  • The parents’ current location;
  • The referrer’s relationship and knowledge of the child and parents/carers;
  • Known current or previous involvement of other agencies/professionals.

As a referrer you should prepare this information as part of your referral where possible but where parts of this information are not readily available, this should not cause a delay in the referral being made.


4. Action Taken in Response to Referrals Received 

Upon receipt of a referral, Children’s Social Care will:

  • Check whether the child or children have an existing Child in Need Plan of Support, Protection or Care and whether there has been any previous involvement with Children’s Social Care in relation to the child or children concerned and any other members of the household;
  • Identify and consult with other agencies or persons as appropriate who may hold relevant information;
  • Liaise with the Police if any offence has been or is suspected to have been committed.

Parents should be informed of the referral and their permission sought to share information with other agencies unless to do so would:

  • Prejudice any investigations or enquiries; 
  • Be prejudicial to the child’s welfare and/or safety; 
  • Cause concern that the child would be at risk of further Significant Harm. 

See also Draft GDPR - Information Sharing Protocol.

In these circumstances, a manager from Children’s Social Care may decide to consult other relevant agencies without seeking parental consent. Any such decision must be recorded with reasons.

Send written acknowledgment of the receipt of a written referral and the first response decision within one working day. (This can be via email if the appropriate secure network is available). 

If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement within three working days, they should again contact Children’s Social Work Services.


5. Decision Making

The decision on what action will be taken in response to a referral will be made by the Manager on duty (Team Manager or Assistant TM) within 24 hours.

The Local Authority has a statutory responsibility to assess whether a child is a Child in Need.

To make this determination, the Manager receiving the referral will need to review:

  • The nature of the concern;
  • How and why it has arisen;
  • What the presenting child’s and family’s needs appear to be;
  • What relevant historical information is held by Children’s Social Care;
  • Whether the concern indicates a likelihood of Significant Harm (no keyword required) and if so;
  • Whether there is any need for any urgent action to protect the child, any other child in the same household or any child in contact with an alleged perpetrator;
  • Whether there are any other children, either in the household or in contact with any alleged perpetrator of abuse, identified as in need or at risk of harm;
  • Whether there are any concerns regarding an abuse of a position of trust.

The outcome of the referral will be one of the following:

  • Social Work to determine whether the child/ren is a child in need of Support, Protection and or Care. (The initial phase of the Assessment may be very brief if the criteria for initiating a Strategy Discussion (no keyword required) are met); and/or
  • That a child and family have been identified as in need of support services and these should be offered to support a parent / carer to meet the needs of the children and preventing the child from becoming a child in need of statutory services. In such cases a referral to another agency and/or the provision of advice and information should be made;
  • A child has been identified as in need of Statutory Services, including Private Fostering (no keyword required) assessment, 16+ provision, or disability support services. In such cases an assessment and or referral to the appropriate team for assessment and or intervention will be made;
  • That a person in a position of trust may have abused that position of trust and as a result a child may be a Child in Need. In such cases a referral under the Allegations against Persons who work with Children Procedure will be made to further investigate the abuse of the position of trust and a decision made as to whether an Social Work Assessment is required;
  • That no further action is required in response to the referral. In such cases the referral information will be recorded and retained for information and used to inform decision on any future relevant referrals.

Where the significant harm has been caused by a person who was not previously known to the child or by another child, the decision whether to take further action under these procedures will depend on the following:

  • Is the alleged perpetrator likely to pose a risk of significant harm to this or any other children? 
  • Did the parent or carer by omission or commission contribute to the abuse?

The decision will be fed back to the referrer either by the MASH worker or a member of the team allocated to work with the child and family, which may be a Social Worker or Family Support Worker.

Feedback on the outcome of a referral will be provided to the referrer, including where no further action is to be taken.

In the case of a referral by a member of the public, feedback should be provided in a way which will respect the confidentiality of the child.

At the end of any discussion or dialogue about the decision, the referrer (whether a professional, a member of the public, a family member or the child) and Children’s Social Care should be clear about any proposed action, timescales and who will be taking it, or whether no further action will be taken. The outcome should be recorded by Children’s Social Care and by the referrer (if a professional in another service).

Where a referrer is unclear or in disagreement with the decision made, they should ask to speak to the responsible qualified social worker or the duty Manager in the first instance to try and reach an agreed understanding regarding the decision.

If a referring professional does not agree with the proposed response to the referral, the referrer should discuss their concerns directly with the duty Assistant Team Manager or Team Manager in the first instance to seek resolution.


6. Pre-Birth Referrals and the Response by Children’s Social Care

Where agencies or individuals anticipate that an unborn baby may be a child in need of support, care or protection following his or her birth or where the baby, once born, may be a child in need for whom the Local Authority will have statutory responsibilities, a referral to Children’s Social Care must be made as soon as the concerns are recognised.

Where the family is already an open case to Children’s Social Care a written referral of concern should still be made. 

Where the concerns centre around a category of parenting behaviour, for example, substance misuse, the referrer must make clear how this is likely to impact on the baby and what risks are predicted.

The name of the father should be established whenever possible to inform the referral but the name of the mother must be used as the primary name given to the unborn. 

A pre-birth referral should always be considered where:

  • There has been a previous unexplained death of a child whilst in the care of either parent; 
  • A parent or other adult in the household has been convicted for violent conduct; 
  • The mother, father or a sibling in the household has a Child Protection Plan; 
  • The mother, father or a sibling has previously been removed from the household by court order or Accommodated as a result of concerns regarding Significant Harm; 
  • The degree of domestic violence and abuse known to have occurred is likely to significantly impact on the baby's safety or development; 
  • The degree of parental substance misuse is likely to significantly impact on the baby's safety or development;
  • The degree of parental mental illness/impairment is likely to significantly impact on the baby's safety or development;
  • There are serious concerns about the prospective parents’ ability to care for themselves and/or to care for the child, for example where the parent has no support and/or has learning disabilities; 
  • Any other concern exists that the baby may be at risk of Significant Harm, including a parent previously suspected of having Fabricated or Induced Illness in a child, or a prospective parent who has been the subject of fabricated or induced illness as a child themselves.

Concerns for the welfare of an unborn child should be referred as soon as possible in order to:

  • Provide sufficient time to make adequate plans for the baby’s protection;
  • Provide sufficient time for a full and informed assessment;
  • Avoid initial approaches to parents in the last stages of pregnancy, at what is already an emotionally charged time;
  • Enable parents to have more time to contribute their own ideas and solutions to concerns and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome to assessments;
  • Enable the early provision of support services so as to facilitate optimum home circumstances prior to the birth.

Concerns should be shared with prospective parent/s and consent obtained to refer to Children’s Social Care unless this action in itself may place the welfare of the unborn child at risk, e.g. if there are concerns that the parent/s may move to avoid contact with social workers or other professionals.

Children’s Social Work Response to Pre-Birth Referrals

A pre-birth Social Work Assessment will be undertaken on all pre-birth referrals where:

  • A sibling in the household has a Child Protection Plan; (no keyword required);
  • A sibling has previously been removed from the household by Court Order or Accommodated as a result of concerns regarding Significant Harm; (no keyword required);
  • A Child Death Review has raised significant concerns about a previous child of the family;
  • The mother of the unborn is monitored through MARAC (no keyword required) as high risk victim of Domestic Abuse or where there is a repeated pattern of domestic abuse known for either parent/partner/birth father to the unborn;
  • The degree of parental substance misuse is likely to cause withdrawal in the baby at birth, significantly impact on the baby’s development and or impact on the parenting capacity;
  • The degree of parental mental illness/impairment is likely to significantly impact on their parenting capacity including a parent previously suspected of causing Fabricated or Induced Illness Procedure or a prospective parent who has been the subject of fabricating or inducing illness as a child themselves;
  • The mother of the unborn is the subject of a plan and open case to Children Social Care.


7. Where There is or May be a Crime Committed

If the referral relates to a situation in which a crime has or may have been committed against a child, including sexual or physical assault or physical injury caused by neglect, the worker receiving the referral must discuss the referral with the Police at the earliest opportunity. 

The Police, in consultation with Children’s Social Care and any other agencies involved with the child, must consider whether there should be a criminal investigation and/or a Children’s Social Care led investigation.

Whilst the responsibility to instigate criminal proceedings rests with the Police, they should consider the view expressed by other agencies. In the case of less serious cases, it may be agreed that the best interests of the child would be served by a Children’s Social Care led intervention rather than a criminal investigation.

In circumstances where it is suspected that the child may have been conceived as the result of an incestuous relationship or inter familial abuse, consideration should be given to the use of DNA testing and the role of agencies and geneticists.


8. Emergency Medical Action

If the child is suffering from a serious injury, medical attention must be sought immediately by calling an ambulance or taking the child to the Accident and Emergency Department of the local hospital. The duty consultant paediatrician must be informed of the nature of the concerns and a referral made in accordance with this procedure as soon as practically possible.


9. Emergency Protection

The safety of children is paramount in all decisions relating to their welfare. Any action taken by staff should ensure that no child is left in immediate danger Where there is a risk to the life of a child or a likelihood of immediate Significant Harm, (no keyword required) the social worker and/or Police officer must act to secure the safety of the child in the first instance and then agree further action in a strategy discussion.

The agency taking protective action must always consider whether action is also required to safeguard other children in the same household or in the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere.

Section 3(5) of the Children Act 1989 empowers anyone who has care of a child (such as a teacher, foster carer or childminder) to do all that is reasonable in the circumstances to safeguard her/his welfare.

Emergency action may be necessary as soon as the referral is received or at any point during involvement with children, parents or carers, where there is evidence that the risk to the child is sufficiently acute.

Where abuse is alleged, suspected or confirmed in children admitted to hospital, they must not be discharged until a referral has been made to Children’s Social Care in accordance with this procedure and a decision made as to the need for immediate protective action.

Responsibility for immediate action rests with Children’s Social Care for the area where the child is found, but should be in consultation with the Local Authority where the child is ordinarily resident, if different.

Immediate protection may be achieved by:

  • An alleged abuser agreeing to leave the home;
  • The removal of the alleged abuser;
  • Voluntary agreement for the child or children to move to a safer place with or without a protective person;
  • Application for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO); (no keyword required)
  • Removal of the child or children under Police Protection; (no keyword required)
  • Gaining entry to the household under Police powers.

Children’s Social Care should only seek the assistance of the Police to use their powers of Police Protection in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order. 

Planned immediate protective action will normally take place following a Strategy Discussion (no keyword required) between Police, Children’s Social Care and other agencies as appropriate (including the NSPCC where involved). Where a single agency has to act immediately to protect a child, a Strategy Discussion should take place as soon as possible after such action to plan next steps.

Social workers must refer to the Children’s Social Work Procedures for more detailed guidelines on applications for Emergency Protection Orders. Legal advice should normally be obtained before initiating legal action, even when an Emergency Protection Order is to be sought. The social worker must also seek the agreement of her/his Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager before initiating emergency legal action.

NB Where a child is afforded immediate protection by an Emergency Protection Order or Police Protection, the Local Authority has a duty to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry. (no keyword required)


9. Confidentiality

The safety and welfare of the child overrides all other considerations, including the following:

  • Confidentiality;
  • The gathering of evidence;
  • Commitment or loyalty to relatives, friends or colleagues.

In deciding whether there is a need to share information, professionals need to consider their legal obligations, including whether they have a legal duty of confidentiality towards the child. Where there is such a duty, the professional may lawfully share information if the child consents of if there is a public interest to do so, for example, in protecting the child from harm. This must be judged by the professional on the facts of each case. Where there is clear likelihood of significant harm to a child, or serious harm to adults, the public interest test will almost certainly be satisfied.

The overriding consideration must be the best interests of the child, for this reason, absolute confidentiality cannot and should not be promised to anyone. See Draft GDPR - Information Sharing Protocol for further guidance.

For guidance in relation to making a referral relating to under-age sexual activity – see Multi-Agency Protocol for Identifying and Responding to Cases of Harm Arising from Under Age Sexual Activity.

Anonymous referrals must be given the same degree of importance and priority as other referrals. Anonymity of the referrer is not an indicator that the content of the referral is any less of a concern. 

Individual members of the public who make a referral may prefer not to give their name or they may disclose their identity, but not wish for it to be revealed to the parents/carers of the child concerned. Where possible this request should be respected and their identity kept confidential.

Professionals making a referral are expected to provide their professional details; this does not mean the information will automatically be shared with the child or family. 

However, no referrers should not be given any guarantees of confidentiality, as there are certain circumstances in which their identity may have to be given (e.g. the Court arena) or may become evident (e.g. where the content of the referral may identify the source of the referral).

In all cases a decision will need to be reached as to whether the source of the referral needs to be identified to promote professional working arrangements or to allow Children Social Care to progress an investigation into the concerns raised. 

Where the identity of the referrer will be disclosed or is likely to become known to the child and family consideration must be given to any risk posed to the referrer. Where a risk is identified a children social work manager should complete a Service User Risk Management plan (SURM) to identify how best to minimise and manage the risk.


11. Listening to the Child

If the child makes an allegation or discloses information which raises concern about actual or potential Significant Harm, the initial response should be limited to listening carefully to what the child says to:

  • Clarify the concerns;
  • Confirm who the child has already told, if anyone;
  • Make a full written record of what is being said by the child in their words.

If a child is freely recalling events, the response should be to listen, rather than stop the child; questioning of the information being given must be limited to confirming factual accuracy required to provide a quality referral, e.g. who are the people involved, what has happened and when and where did any incident occur.

If the child has an injury but no explanation is volunteered, it is acceptable to enquire how the injury was sustained.

However, the child must not be pressed for information, led or cross-examined or given false assurances of absolute confidentiality. Such well-intentioned actions could prejudice Police investigations, especially in cases of Sexual Abuse.

It is important that the child should not be asked to repeat the information to a colleague or write the information down. Making an accurate record of what the child has said, recording the child's own words, is the responsibility of the person to whom the child has disclosed.

A record of all conversations, (including the timings, the setting, those present, as well as what was said by all parties) and actions must be kept. If a criminal investigation proceeds, failure to follow the guidance in relation to listening and recording information provided by a child could lead to conflict and the credibility of the child's account being undermined at court.

No enquiries or investigations may be initiated without the authority of Children’s Social Care or the Police.


12. Child’s Consent to the Referral

If the child can understand the significance and consequences of making a referral, his or her views regarding a referral to Children Social Care should be obtained and taken into consideration by the referring professional.

Whilst the child’s views should be sought, it remains the responsibility of the professional to take whatever action is required to ensure the safety of that child and any other children.

It is important to explain to the child in an age appropriate way how the information will be passed to Children’s Social Care and/or the Police as the agencies with lead responsibility for the welfare and protection of children.

Where the child does not wish his or her parent to know that they or someone else has made a referral about them, those receiving the referral must consider the wishes and best interests of the child. If the child can be considered as “Fraser Competent” then direct work can be undertaken with the child without parental knowledge or consent, however it is always important to encourage a child to be open and to engage parents unless to do so would increase a risk of harm to the child or young person. 

Any decision not to advise a parent about a referral or contact with a Young Person must be recorded in detail to provide a record of defensible decision making.


13. Parental Consent to the Referral

The referrer should seek, in general, to discuss concerns with the family and, where possible seek the family’s agreement to making a referral unless this may place the child at increased likelihood of suffering Significant Harm (no keyword required) by:

  • Delay in referral;
  • The response it prompts from the parents;
  • Alerting the alleged perpetrator.

See also Draft GDPR - Information Sharing Protocol.

A decision by any professional not to seek parental permission before making a referral to Children’s Social Care must be recorded and the reasons given.

Where a parent has agreed to a referral, this must be recorded and confirmed on the Children and Families Inter-Agency Referral Form.

Where the parent is consulted and refuses to give permission for the referral, further advice should be sought from a manager or the Designated Professional, unless to do so would cause undue delay. The outcome of the consultation and any further advice should be fully recorded.

If, having taken full account of the parent’s wishes, it is still considered that there is a need for a referral:

  • The reason for proceeding without parental agreement must be recorded;
  • Children’s Social Care should be told that the parent has withheld her/his permission;
  • The parent should be contacted by the referring professional to inform her/him that after considering their wishes, a referral has been made. The timing of this contact should be agreed with Children’s Social Care.


14. Cross Boundary Referrals Regarding Significant Harm

The Local Authority in whose area a child, who may be likely to suffer Significant Harm, (no keyword required) is found is responsible for taking the action.

Therefore, if the referral relates to a child whose home is in Solihull, but who is temporarily visiting or resident in the area of another local authority or in a hospital in the area of another authority, the local authority for the area where the child is at the time of the referral has prime responsibility for acting upon the referral.

Similarly, it is the responsibility of Solihull Children’s Social Care to make initial enquiries and take any action necessary where a referral relates to a child temporarily in Solihull but normally resident elsewhere.

Where the child is ordinarily resident in another authority, that authority must be consulted before any action is taken, including involving them in the Strategy Discussion. Where it is consistent with the child’s immediate protection needs, it may be agreed that the child’s home authority will respond to the referral. Only when the home local authority explicitly agrees to accept responsibility is the host authority relieved of further responsibility to take any required action.

Where the host authority retains responsibility for responding to the referral, they must always involve the home authority and other agencies in the home authority in the process to ensure that the child is safeguarded, especially where there are plans to return the child to his or her home address.

All enquiries and actions should be confirmed in writing with the home authority.


15. Extension of Timescales

Any timescales referred to in this procedure are the minimum standards required by the Local Safeguarding Children Board.

Where the welfare of the child requires it, shorter timescales must be achieved.

Extensions to the timescales must be authorised by the relevant manager following consultation with relevant managers from the other agencies involved and can only be authorised where the following exceptional circumstances apply:

  • The need to engage interpreters and/or translators;
  • Complex cases, for example those involving organised abuse or fabricated or induced illness.

End