The social worker must clarify with the referrer (including self-referrals from children and families)
- the nature of the concerns
- how and why these have arisen
- what appear to be the needs of the child and family
- whether there are concerns about maltreatment and, if so, whether urgent action is necessary to ensure the child, or children, is kept safe.
The social worker should then discuss the concern with their manager and decide on the next course of action.
This could be:
- no further action by Children’s Social Care
- signposting to other appropriate services
- asking the referrer to complete a Common Assessment
But if they believe that the child will benefit from Children’s Social Care, the next action could be
- starting an Initial Assessment,
- starting a Core Assessment,
- starting an enquiry into suspicions about significant harm under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 (often referred to as a 'Section 47 Enquiry').
The referrer must be contacted for their views as soon as a decision has been made, and no later than 24 hours after the referral. If the referrer is a teacher, Children's Social Care need to consider getting back to them by the end of the school day.
How to do it
In deciding what course of action to take, the social worker and their manager should consider
- whether the child is at risk from significant harm
- what, or who, is posing a danger
- how serious the situation is
- how urgent it is
- whether the parents/carers are requesting help
- whether it is possible to work with the parents/carers. If so, what will need to be done to achieve this?
- what are the views of the child or young person
- whether there are others who may also be at risk.
If the social worker decides that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm, they should contact other agencies to collect further information.
Any agency accepting a referral must keep children and their parents involved and informed throughout the assessment, planning and implementation stages, unless this would place the child at further risk.
All workers who continue to have a role should keep themselves and other professionals involved and informed throughout.