How to make a referral

Key points

This section assumes that you have concerns about a child's welfare or safety and want to make a referral to Children’s Social Care, because you think they will be best placed to help. You should do this by telephoning Children's Social Care Initial Response Service (IRS) on Tel. 0191 2772500 in office hours or their Emergency Duty Team out of hours on Tel. 0191 2328520 Professionals must follow this up in writing by fax, secure email, or post using the all agency referral form (Word Document opens in new window) within 48 hours. If Children's Social Care do not contact you about what action they have taken you must contact them again within three working days of making the referral.

How to do it

Children’s Social Care will want to decide with you whether;

  • this is a child protection case
  • this is a child with complex needs requiring initial and core assessment or
  • another agency should deal with the matter, or
  • you need to continue to monitor the situation.

It will help if you consider;

  • why you think the time is right to discuss the matter with Children’s Social Care
  • what information you can give them about
    • the child’s developmental needs
    • parenting capacity
    • social and environmental factors.
  • how you will remain involved with the family
  • whether the parents know that you are making this referral
  • whether the parents agreed to you making this referral
  • how you can help to introduce a social worker to the family – for example by a joint visit
  • what you want Children’s Social Care to do.

It is important that you make your referral as soon as you have decided that this is the best course of action.

In general you should inform the childs parentsand young person if they have appropiate capacity that you are making a referral to Childrens Social Care and why. However there are some circumstances when you should not do this.

  • if this would put child or young person in danger
  • if you think this would put you in immeadiate danger
  • in cases of concern about induced illness
  • in cases of concern about Forced Marriage

At the end of any discussion about a child, the referrer (whether a professional, a member of the public or a family member) and the social worker must be clear about what the proposed actions are, who will undertake them and what the timescale is; or alternatively that no further action will be taken. This decision should be recorded by both the person making the referral (if a professional) and the worker in Children’s Social Care.

Sometimes Children’s Social Care may decide not to get involved. This could be because the situation is not serious enough, or because there isn’t yet enough information or because another service may be appropriate. In this case, you should continue to follow up your concerns, working with the family and collecting further information. Do not stop until you are sure that the child’s needs are being met or that there is no need to be concerned.