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1.3.1 Initial Contacts and Referrals

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Family Contact Point (FCP) / Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) has been created to test and develop a new approach to dealing with all contacts to Children & Families. The primary aim of this team is to receive all contacts to Children & Families; gather rich information to enable a robust decision to be made. The service aims to provide a rapid, effective and responsive screening, triage and decision making service to all those seeking assistance for vulnerable children and families at initial point of contact: aiming to ensure that children’s needs are identified early so that services can be targeted early into the life of the problem.

FCP/MASH is co-located with Police, Early Help and Health colleagues within Clarence House on Swindon Borough Council’s main complex. This co-location aims to ensure the best sharing of information between early help; social care, police and health.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS AND GUIDANCE

This Chapter should be read in conjunction with:

Early Help Record and Plan (Swindon Borough Council website) Swindon LSCB Multi-Agency Threshold Guidance

Swindon LSCB Multi-Agency Threshold Guidance

Swindon Borough Council Children’s Services Child Protection Policy

Step Down from Social Care to Early Help Services Protocol

Family Contact Point / MASH Protocol

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in August 2016 to include reference to the MASH and updated timescales.


Contents

  1. Types of Contacts
  2. Advice and Information
  3. Decision Making and Time-scales


1. Types of Contacts

The Family Contact Point email address is FCP-GCSX@swindon.gcsx.gov.uk. This mail address is available to members of the public and professionals and enables professional bodies including the Police to send confidential information to the service.

All e-mails are received into a general inbox that sends an automated reply confirming receipt and advising the sender to call if there is a matter which needs urgent discussion by providing the telephone number for FCP/MASH.

Letter/Fax

All post that arrives is dealt with by the Administration section in FCP/MASH.

Telephone

Members of the public and professionals may contact the service by telephone on 01793 466903. The call will be answered by an Advice an Information Officer. If the Advice and Information Officer’s line is busy the phone will hunt the next available number within FCP/MASH.

Office Visit

If a child or adult visits the Service Centre and asks to speak to a Social Worker they will be directed to the dedicated Children & Family reception area by front-of-house staff. A room will be assigned for an interview with the appropriate Worker.

Emergency Duty Service

Any contact received by the Emergency Duty Service which requires further response or analysis is passed to the FCP/MASH using the Contact Record on Capita One. Any case requiring a Child Protection Response or follow up, is passed directly to the relevant Social Work team.

Other Professionals

Referrals by professionals are made using the Referral Form which is available electronically on Swindon’s intranet and Schools-on-line; the form can be e-mailed to professionals if required.

Exceptions in which a referral may be made without a completed referral form are:

  • Referrals regarding immediate child protection concerns (professionals will be required to complete the referral form within 48 hours following contact with the service);
  • Notifications or enquiries from the police, these are received via secure e-mail if from CPRU;
  • Legal notifications or instructions from Solicitors or Court (usually relating to contact/residence issues or special guardianship).

Contacts requesting information

All requests from external agencies for information held in respect of children are managed as a contact process. An Advice and Information Officer will discuss the requirements of the request with the Manager or Consultant Social Worker. Information requests in respect of open cases will be diverted to the allocated Social Work Team for a response.


2. Advice and Information

Advice and Information Officers are responsible for dealing with all contacts (in whatever form) to the Family Contact Point. They undertake checks on Swindon’s databases Capita, ICS and Health to ascertain if the child and family are known to the service and to check the accuracy of the information received (i.e. address, occupants, dates of birth etc). (see Family Contact Point Protocol, 2.1).

If a child is a currently open social care case, the Advice and Information Officer will forward the e-mail via workflow to the relevant Social Worker case holder, copying in the relevant Team Manager. (see Family Contact Point Protocol, 2.5) In most cases, this transfer will be after a phone call/email has been made to advise that information is being work flowed.

If a child is a currently open case to an early help professional, the Advice and Information Officer will gather relevant information on the contact made (see Family Contact Point Protocol, 2.9).

If a child is not known on the system, a file will be created within Capita One, relevant information will be gathered.

If the case is new, the Advice and Information Officer will obtain the necessary consent to hold and share information.

In all cases, if the contact can be provided with advice and guidance or appropriate signposting, this will be provided by the Advice and Information Officer and actions taken will be recorded.

If the Advice and Information Officer does not feel in a position to offer the relevant advice and guidance, then the contact will be passed to the Consultant Social Worker or Manager for a decision and further investigation and action (triage) will then be collated by the social workers in FCP/MASH.

If the Advice and Information Officers believes there are immediate concerns about a child’s safety then the contact will be passed immediately to the Consultant Social worker / Manager or social workers within FCP/MASH.


3. Decision Making and Time-scales

Refer to the FCP/MASH Protocol.

The team are guided by the Swindon Childcare Manual which is available electronically at http://www.swindonlscb.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx and the South West Child Protection procedures available electronically at http://www.proceduresonline.com/swcpp/. In addition, the LSCB prints small pocket guides for anyone which give advice and guidance.

If the request is via the Courts and relates to either S7 or S37 reports (private proceedings) these requests will be transferred immediately to the relevant social work team following a discussion with the relevant Social Work Team Manager.

In all instances, a letter to the referrer will be sent to confirm the decisions made and reasons for it and, where appropriate, information is also shared with the family concerned.

End