Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service. Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board Policy and Procedures

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1 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board Policy and Procedures

2 Introduction These Safeguarding Children Procedures have been adopted by the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board and are fully supported by all partner agencies involved in the safeguarding of children. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined within Working Together as: Protecting children from maltreatment Preventing impairment of children s health and development Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care..and undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood successfully. Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board are committed to the right of children to have their basic needs met, to achieve their full potential and to live in an environment where they are protected from emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect. It is recognised that most children thrive when their parents or carers are helped to provide a good standard of care for them. Parents, carers and children will therefore be supported and encouraged to work with the agencies in Wolverhampton to achieve those standards of care which enable children to be safeguarded and to achieve their full potential. Although these procedures focus on child protection it is implicit that any assessment of a child under these procedures looks at all the needs of the child and that the needs of the child and the family will be addressed within the broad continuum of child in need services. This definition clearly defines safeguarding in holistic terms. Effective child protection is defined as essential to the work of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children but sets this work in the wider context of agencies and individuals being proactive in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children so the need to protect children from harm is reduced. It is not possible to separate the protection of children from wider support to families. Indeed often the best protection for a child is achieved by the timely intervention of family support services Lord Laming. Victoria Climbie Inquiry. Policy and Procedures i

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4 Policy and Procedures contents page i Introduction 1 WORKING TOGETHER Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board Policy statement Purpose and principles of procedures Every Child Matters Race, ethnicity, religion and culture 18 Shared responsibilities Duty to co-operate Sharing information Consent and confidentiality Working in partnership with families Recruitment and selection of staff Record keeping Supervision and support Policy and Procedures 1

5 contents page Training and development 23 Identification of children in need of protection Significant harm Definitions of child abuse and neglect Contexts of abuse and sources of stress 2 PROCEDURES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF INDIVIDUAL CASES Making a referral Initial response to referrals: Initial assessment Response when the Children & Young People s Service are already actively involved with the child Strategy Discussion Section 47 enquiries / core assessment Conducting section 47 enquiries 2 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

6 page 38 6 Immediate protection 40 7 Medical assessment 41 8 Investigative interview 42 9 Working with parents Working with the child Outcomes of section 47 enquiries: 43 Introduction 43 Concerns are not substantiate 44 Concerns are substantiated but the child is not judged to be at continuing risk of significant harm 45 Concerns are substantiated and the child is judged to be at continuing risk of significant harm 3 CHILD PROTECTION CONFERENCES AND CHILD PROTECTION PLANS Purpose of initial child protection conference Timescales Policy and Procedures 3

7 contents page 50 3 Requesting an initial child protection conference 51 4 Pre-birth conferences 52 5 Attendance at the initial child protection conference 54 6 Participation of the child 55 7 Participation of those with parental responsibility / the child s carers 56 8 Exclusion of those with parental responsibility/ the child s carers 57 9 Conference reports: 58 Social Worker s report 58 Medical report 59 Other professionals Chairing the conference Decisions and recommendations Child protection conference records and distribution Complaints / representations 4 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

8 page The key worker The core group The child protection plan Recording that a child is subject to a child protection plan Movement of children: 70 Movement within Wolverhampton 71 Movement out of Wolverhampton 71 Movement into Wolverhampton 72 Children who go missing Child protection review conferences Discontinuing the child protection plan 4 ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF AGENCIES 79 1 Introduction 80 2 Children & Young People s Service Policy and Procedures 5

9 contents page 81 3 Education Services 82 4 Youth and Community Services 82 5 Connexions 82 6 Adult Services 82 7 Culture and Leisure Services 83 8 Health Services: 83 Designated and named professionals 83 Hospitals Protocol for referral between Children & Young People s Service and consultant paediatricians at New Cross Hospital Community health services Mental health services Allied health professions Ambulance services NHS Direct 6 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

10 page 87 9 Day care services Carers looking after children away from home Housing authorities and social landlords Police Services Youth Justice Services Probation Services Prison Services Court and Legal Services Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service Voluntary and private sector organisation Volunteer NSPCC Armed Services 5 PROTECTING CHILDREN IN SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES 97 1 Introduction Policy and Procedures 7

11 contents page 98 2 Allegations against a professional, professional carer or volunteer: 102 Foster homes in Wolverhampton 102 Children from Wolverhampton placed in foster homes outside Wolverhampton 102 Private, voluntary or public authority residential care 102 Day and residential schools maintained by Wolverhampton 103 Independent day and residential schools 104 Children being cared for by day 104 Children in custody 105 Children in hospital 106 Volunteers Private foster care Children with disabilities Abuse by Children and Young People 8 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

12 page Abuse by a stranger Abuse by extended family and friends Organised abuse Domestic violence (See 122 Domestic violence) Parental mental illness Parental learning disability Parental substance misuse Adults who pose a risk to children Multi-agency public protection arrangements: 120 Process for public protection panels 121 Disclosure of information about sex offenders Multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) Domestic violence (See 113 Domestic violence) Sexually active children and young people Sexually exploited children Policy and Procedures 9

13 contents page Missing children and families Children who self harm Induced or fabricated illness: 129 Use of covert video surveillance Bullying Racism Female genital mutilation Forced marriage Honour crimes Possession and witchcraft Migrant children: 132 Unaccompanied asylum seeking children 133 Child victims of trafficking Children in temporary accommodation Visits by children to high security hospitals, prisons and young offender institutions 10 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

14 page 6 APPENDICES Legal framework Information sharing Information sharing flow charts Signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect Timescales Guide to medical assessments Guide to investigative interviews Assessments and enquiries ten pitfalls and how to avoid them The Common Assessment Framework and the Assessment Framework Wolverhampton Children & Young People s Service guide to recording in child protection cases Child deaths and serious case reviews Principles for working in partnership Working with sexually active young people under the age of 18 protocol Policy and Procedures 11

15 contents page Wolverhampton protocol for adults identified as posing a risk or potential risk to children List of the major offences that might be committed against children Provision of therapy for children involved in court proceedings Criminal injuries compensation Child pornography and the internet Victim enquiry unit Visits by children to psychiatric patients Complaints / representations about inter agency child protection conferences Multi-agency glossary of terms Contact information ACTIONS FROM SERIOUS CASE REVIEWS OTHER RELATED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION DOCUMENTATION 12 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

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18 Working Together Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board 1.0 POLICY STATEMENT 1.1 The Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board is a multi agency forum for developing, monitoring and reviewing safeguarding policies and practice and for preventing the impairment of children s health or development. The Board is committed to: The United Nations charter on the rights of child/ren The safety and protection of all children in Wolverhampton The support of children through multi-agency services and planning. A child-centred approach Working in partnership with those with parental responsibility and with carers Anti-discriminatory practice and sensitivity to age, race, religion, culture, gender, disability and sexual orientation Taking account of Wolverhampton s multi-cultural society when considering resources, protection and prevention 1.2 The Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board will:- Ensure the effectiveness of the work of each Board partner in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children Co-ordinate strategic planning for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children of Wolverhampton Develop and monitor policies and procedures for the implementation of the strategies in respect of safeguarding and the promotion of welfare Promote and uphold standards of good practice Actively support practitioners operating in the field of safeguarding and the promotion of welfare through providing clear policy and procedural guidance. Investigate every unexpected death which occurs in childhood Carry out the tasks outlined in national guidance by means of an annual programme of work through its Business Plan Publish an Annual Report on a multi-agency basis Present, discuss and take account of national and local reports 1.3 The constituent members of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board recognise that the key features of effective arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children are: Senior management commitment to the importance of safeguarding and promoting children s welfare Clear priorities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children explicitly stated in strategic policy documents Clear policy and procedural guidance on safeguarding and promoting children s welfare Policy and Procedures 15

19 Clear lines of accountability for work on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children Consideration of the need to safeguard and promote children s welfare in all service developments Procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against members of staff and volunteers and appropriate complaints and whistle blowing procedures Listening to the views of children and young people Staff training and development in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children Safe recruitment practices Effective information sharing Effective inter agency working 2.0 PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES OF THE PROCEDURES 2.1 Anyone who has contact with children may become concerned about their well-being or safety and consequently needs to know: The principles contained in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2006 and the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families; Relevant sections of legislation governing services to children The Children Act 1989, Children Act 2004 and Education Act 2002 What services are available locally, and how to gain access to them; What sources of advice or expertise are available, who to contact, and how; What is in the safeguarding procedures and their own internal agency procedures; When and how to make a referral to the Children & Young People s Service. 2.2 Achieving good outcomes for children about whom there are child welfare concerns requires all those with responsibility for assessment and the provision of services to work together according to an agreed plan of action. Effective collaborative working requires professionals and agencies to be clear about: Their roles and responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children; The purpose of their activity, what decisions are required at each stage of the process and what are the intended outcomes for the child and their family members; The legislative basis for the work; The protocols and procedures to be followed, including the way in which information will be shared across professional boundaries and within agencies, and be recorded; Which agency, team or professional has lead responsibility, and the precise roles of everyone else who is involved, including the way in which the children and other family members will be involved; 16 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

20 Any timescales set down in Regulations or Guidance which govern the completion of assessments, making of plans and timing of reviews. 2.3 These procedures produced by the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board are intended to ensure effective inter-agency communication and safeguarding practice and to provide a framework within which safeguarding decisions may be made by all those whose work brings them into contact with children. 3.0 EVERY CHILD MATTERS 3.1 The five Every Child Matters outcomes for children and young people are that they should: Be healthy: - Physically healthy - Mentally and emotionally healthy - Sexually healthy - Healthy lifestyles - Choose not to take illegal drugs Stay safe: - Safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation - Safe from accidental injury and death - Safe from bullying and discrimination - Safe from crime and antisocial behaviour - Have security, stability and are cared for Enjoy and achieve: - Ready for School - Attend and enjoy school - Achieve stretching national educational standards at primary school - Achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation - Achieve stretching educational standards at secondary school Make a positive contribution: - Engage in decision making and support the community and environment - Engage in law abiding and positive behaviour in and out of school - Develop positive relationships and choose not to bully or discriminate - Develop self confidence and successfully deal with significant life changes and challenges - Develop enterprising behaviour Achieve economic well-being: - Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school - Ready for employment - Live in decent homes and sustainable communities - Access to transport and material goods - Live in households free from low income Policy and Procedures 17

21 3.2 To achieve these outcomes, support services for children cannot be separated from services designed to investigate and protect children from deliberate harm. The concept of safeguarding embraces all children including those who are defined as children in need and those who are suffering or are at risk of suffering significant harm and are in need of protection 3.3 Children in Need are defined under Section 17 of the 1989 Children Act as those whose vulnerability is such that they are unlikely to reach or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services. Children with disabilities are defined as children in need. 3.4 Children in need of protection are those who are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and require a multi agency plan to safeguard their best interests. 4.0 RACE, ETHNICITY, RELIGION AND CULTURE 4.1 Wolverhampton is a multi cultural community. In order to make sensitive and informed professional judgements about a child s needs and a parents capacity to respond to those needs, it is important that professionals are sensitive to differing family patterns and lifestyles and to child rearing patterns that vary across different racial, ethnic and cultural groups. Professionals also need to be aware of the broad social factors that can discriminate against black and minority ethnic people. 4.2 The assessment process should always include consideration of the way religious beliefs and cultural traditions in different racial, ethnic and cultural groups influence their values, attitudes and behaviour and the way in which family and community life is structured and organised. 4.3 Professionals should guard against myths and stereotypes, both positive and negative, but anxiety about being accused of racist practice should not prevent the necessary action being taken to safeguard a child. Children from all cultures are subject to abuse and neglect and culture, race or religion cannot be a justification for acts of omission or commission that place a child at risk of significant harm. Shared responsibilities 5.0 DUTY TO COOPERATE 5.1 The Children Act 1989 places two specific duties on agencies to co-operate in the interests of vulnerable children: Section 27 provides that a local authority may request help from: Any local authority; Any local education authority; Any local housing authority; Any health authority, Special Health Authority or National Health Service Trust; and Any person authorised by the Secretary of State in exercising the local authority s functions under Part III of the Act. This part of the Act places a duty on local authorities to provide support and services for children in need, including children looked after by the local authority and those in secure accommodation. 18 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

22 The authority whose help is requested in these circumstances has a duty to comply with the request, provided it is compatible with its other duties and functions. Section 47 places a duty on: Any local authority; Any local education authority; Any housing authority; Any health authority, Special Health Authority or National Health Service Trust; and Any person authorised by the Secretary of State to help a local authority with its enquiries in cases where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. 5.4 The remit of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards under the Children Act 2004 means that all constituent agencies are required under this legislation to work together in the safeguarding of children and in the promotion of their welfare. All agencies and professionals should: Be alert to potential indicators of abuse or neglect; Be alert to the risks which individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children; Share and help to analyse information so that an informed assessment can be made of the child s needs and circumstances; Contribute to whatever actions are needed to safeguard the child and promote his or her welfare; Regularly review the outcomes for the child against specific shared objectives 5.2 These Children Act 1989 duties are consolidated by the Children Act Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on all key agencies to co-operate to improve the well-being of children and young people, and Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on them to safeguard and promote their welfare. 5.3 The Education Act 2002 Sections 157 and 175 place the same duties of co-operation to improve the well being of children and to safeguard their welfare on schools and colleges of further education. 6.0 SHARING INFORMATION 6.1 Working to safeguard children who are suffering, or are at risk of suffering significant harm is not the sole responsibility of any one agency or service. Research and experience have shown repeatedly that keeping children safe from harm requires professionals to share information about child welfare concerns. Often it is only when information is shared that it becomes clear a child may be at risk of significant harm. 6.2 All professional staff are concerned to balance their duties to protect children with their general duty towards their patient or service user. Some professionals may be working with more than one family member and feel there Policy and Procedures 19

23 are conflicts of interest. Professionals concerned about potential conflicts of confidentiality between their duties towards children and their patient or service user, should be guided by the principle that the welfare of the child must be paramount, and their primary responsibility must therefore be to share any information needed to safeguard the child. 6.3 Some information known to professionals should be treated confidentially and should not be shared with families. Reasons for withholding information need to be made clear but the need to safeguard the wellbeing of the child must be the overriding consideration in such situations. 7.0 CONSENT AND CONFIDENTIALITY 7.1 Issues of confidentiality need to be given careful consideration. Normally, personal information about children and families is subject to a legal duty of confidentiality and should only be disclosed to third parties (including other agencies) with the consent of the subject of that information. Wherever possible within these procedures, consent should be obtained before sharing personal information with third parties. However in some circumstances consent may not be possible or desirable as it may compromise the safety and welfare of the child. The information in these circumstances may need to be shared without consent in the interests of the child whose welfare is paramount. 7.2 The key factor in deciding whether or not to disclose confidential information is proportionality. The amount of information disclosed and the number of people to whom it is disclosed should be no more than is strictly necessary to meet the public interest in protecting the health and well being of a child. The more sensitive the information is, the greater the child-focused need must be to justify disclosure and the greater the need to ensure that only those professionals who have to be informed receive the material. 7.3 Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board has agreed a statement on confidentiality: In Safeguarding Children, the degree of confidentiality will be governed by the need to protect the child/ren. Social workers and others (including those in the Voluntary Sector) working with a child/ren and family or an individual adult, must make it clear to those providing information that confidentiality may not be maintained if the with-holding of information might prejudice the welfare of a child/ren 8.0 WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FAMILIES 8.1 Family members are likely to know more about their family than any professional could possibly know and well-founded decisions about a child should draw upon this knowledge and understanding. Family members should normally have the right to know what is being said about them, and to contribute to important decisions about their lives and those of their children. However there may be occasions when it is appropriate and necessary for professionals to meet together without parents to reflect on their own practice in a particular case or to deal with a matter which may lead to criminal enquiries. Strategy discussions, and sometimes planning meetings, are examples of this. 8.2 Many families perceive professional involvement in their lives as painful and intrusive, particularly if they feel that their care 20 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

24 of their children is being called into question. Professionals can make the child protection process less stressful for families by the way in which they approach working in partnership. Where intervention in family life is necessary, parents should be helped and encouraged to play as full a part as possible in decisions about their child. There should be a presumption of openness, joint decisionmaking and a willingness to listen to families and to capitalise on their strengths. However the professionals should never lose sight of the principle that they are acting in the best interests of the child. 8.3 Children and families may be supported through their involvement in the child protection process by advice and advocacy services and they should always be informed of them. When children are required to give evidence in criminal proceedings they should be informed of the Witness Support Service. 8.4 The Children & Young People s Service has a responsibility to make sure children and adults have all the information they need to help them understand child protection processes. Information, support and advice should be available to the family in the language of their choice. 8.5 If there are specific communication needs because of language or disability, the services of a professionally trained interpreter or a specialist worker should be used. Children should not be used as interpreters. 8.6 Children of sufficient age and understanding should be kept fully informed of how child protection processes work, how they can be involved, and how they can contribute to decisions about their future. Consultation with children should always be done sensitively. However, children need to understand that ultimately, decisions will be taken in the light of all the available information and that taking their views into account does not necessarily mean supporting their wishes for the future. 9.0 RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION OF STAFF 9.1 All agencies and organisations whose staff, volunteers or carers work closely with children should have policies and procedures in place to deter those who are unsuitable to work with children. The recommendations of the Bichard Enquiry (2004) concerning recruitment practice underline the need for robust recruitment and selection practices. 9.2 Common features of recruitment and selection should include: Enhanced Criminal Record Bureau checks; Checks of professional registers, if relevant; Asking candidates to confirm identity through official documents; Verifying the authenticity of qualifications and references directly; Seeking a full employment history for prospective staff members and foster carers and reserving the right to approach any previous employer; checking with former employers the reason why employment ended; identifying any gaps or inconsistencies and seeking an explanation; Policy and Procedures 21

25 Making appointments only after references are obtained and checked. Referees should be reminded that references should contain no material mis-statement or omission relevant to the suitability of the applicant; Making all appointments to work with children (including internal transfers) subject to a probationary period. 9.3 Interviewers should be prepared to explore with candidates their attitudes towards children and child care, their perceptions about the boundaries of acceptable behaviour towards children, and pose questions about sexual boundaries and attitudes. 9.4 Even the most careful selection process cannot identify all those who may pose a risk to children. Therefore post-employment management and supervision should always be alert to indicators of untoward behaviour. Any concerns or allegations should be dealt with under the Public Abuse procedures and any disqualification from working with children instigated under the procedure relevant to the agency RECORD KEEPING 10.1 Clear and accurate records are essential as part of the accountability of all professional staff. They help to focus work, ensure it is documented, assist with continuity when staff change and provide a tool for supervision and review. Case records should differentiate between factual information and professional judgement, and should indicate when decisions have been made and by whom. Case records are an essential source of evidence for legal proceedings, investigations and inquiries. All partner members of the Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board must have clear procedures about record keeping Safeguarding a child who is, or may be, at risk of significant harm normally requires information to be collated from a number of sources, usually by the Children & Young People s Service. Children & Young People s Service case records should contain a chronology documenting the history of the case, the details of the referral, a comprehensive assessment, the nature and purpose of the interventions and the plans to achieve and monitor change. The case file should be accessible but secure SUPERVISION AND SUPPORT 11.1 Working in the field of child protection is demanding work that entails making difficult and sometimes risky professional judgements. All of those involved should have access to advice and support, from peers, managers and designated professionals For many practitioners involved in day to day work with children and families, effective supervision is important in promoting good standards of practice and supporting individual staff members. Supervision should help to ensure that practice is soundly based and consistent with Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board and organisational procedures. It should ensure that practitioners fully understand their roles, responsibilities and the scope of their professional discretion and authority. It should also help identify the training and development needs of practitioners, so that each has the skills to provide an effective service. 22 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

26 11.3 Supervision practice should include scrutinising and evaluating the work carried out by the practitioner, assessing their strengths and weaknesses and should provide coaching, development and support. Supervisors should be available to practitioners as an important source of advice and expertise and may be required to endorse judgements at certain key points in child protection processes. Supervisors should always record key decisions and advice given within the relevant case record All agencies should ensure that staff working in the area of child protection have managed caseloads in order to promote safe practice. They should also ensure that the supervisors span of control enables them to maintain oversight of practice and known high risk cases 11.5 In some circumstances practitioners may need additional support. This may involve facilitating referral to staff welfare services or the provision of advice and support from experienced staff within the organisation TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT 12.1 Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board is responsible for the strategic overview of the planning, delivery and evaluation of inter-agency training. Training is a standard agenda item at Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board meetings to ensure regular consideration is given to policy and practice developments both at a local and national level A Training and Development Sub-Committee of the Safeguarding Children Board is responsible for the co-ordination, commissioning, delivery, evaluation and setting of Quality Standards of the interagency safeguarding children training programme. Its purpose is to ensure that all professional staff in contact with children know how to safeguard the welfare of children and are aware of the legislative framework, local procedures and good practice issues. Identification of children in need of protection 13.0 SIGNIFICANT HARM 13.1 The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of significant harm as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of the child. Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 places the local authority under a duty to make enquiries, or cause enquiries to be made, where it has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm There are no absolute criteria for establishing significant harm. Whether the harm or likely harm suffered by the child is significant is determined by comparing the child s health or development with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child. Professionals must consider a range of factors including:- the wider and environmental family context the child s development within the context of their family and wider social environment any special needs, such as a medical condition, communication difficulty or disability that may affect the child s development and care within the family Policy and Procedures 23

27 the nature of harm, in terms of ill-treatment or failure to provide adequate care the impact on the child s health and development the capacity of the parental carer to adequately meet the child s needs Professionals must also take account of the child s reactions, and his/her perceptions and wishes and feelings, according to their age and understanding. It is only, therefore, through assessment that it is possible to establish whether a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm Professional judgements about significant harm are made following the completion of an assessment when the information collated is analysed and conclusions drawn. The analysis is informed by: Research evidence Practice guidance Legislation and regulations Practice experience Training 13.4 Factors in the case which will inform the analysis and the decision about whether significant harm has occurred are: Age of the child Reason for concern Past history Acknowledgement of parent of problem Co-operation of parents One off incident v continuing Duration of abuse and neglect Extent of premeditation Degree of threat and coercion Degree of injury/harm Contributing factors Identified protector Support networks 13.5 Sometimes, a single traumatic event may constitute significant harm, e.g. a violent assault, suffocation or poisoning. More often, significant harm is a compilation of significant events, both acute and long-standing, which interrupt, change or damage a child s physical and psychological development. Some children live in family and social circumstances where their health and development are neglected. For them, it is the corrosiveness of long-term emotional, physical or sexual abuse that causes impairment to the extent of constituting significant harm. Others may suffer significant harm from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another, for example in cases of domestic abuse. In all cases, the family s strengths and supports should be considered alongside any ill-treatment The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families provides the basis for the systematic assessment of children and families. The framework comprises three domains:- 24 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

28 the child s developmental needs parental capacity wider family and environmental factors All three domains need to be included in the assessment for an informed analysis to be completed. Consultation should always take place with other agencies and with line managers so that professional judgements benefit from as full an analysis as possible DEFINITIONS OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT 14.1 Child abuse occurs throughout society and affects children of all ages. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. A child may be abused or neglected by parents, cohabitees, step-parents, substitute parents, siblings, relatives, friends, neighbours and strangers. A child may be abused at home, at school, in an institutional or community setting and may be subject to more than one type of abuse Physical abuse Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes, ill health to a child whom they are looking after. This situation may be described as fabricated or induced illness by carer Emotional abuse Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate or valued only in so far as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone Sexual abuse Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or in watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways Neglect Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child s health or development. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child s basic emotional needs. Policy and Procedures 25

29 15.0 CONTEXTS OF ABUSE AND SOURCES OF STRESS 15.1 Many families living under great stress manage to bring up their children in a warm, loving and supportive home environment in which the children s needs are met and they are safe from harm. Sources of stress within families may, however, have a negative impact on a child s health, development and well-being, either through direct involvement of the child or because the sources of stress affect the parent s capacity to respond to the child s needs. This is particularly the case where there is no other significant adult who is able to respond to the child s needs Research tells us that sources of stress may include: 15.3 Many of the families who seek help for their children, or about whom others raise concerns, are multiply disadvantaged and socially excluded. Many lack a wage earner. Poverty may mean that children live in crowded or unsuitable accommodation, have poor diets, health problems, be vulnerable to accidents and lack ready access to good educational and leisure opportunities. Families that include a disabled adult or child are more likely to live in poverty and thus be subject to these disadvantages Detailed guidance on a range of contexts of abuse and sources of stress is given in Section 5: Protecting Children in Specific Circumstances. Early parenthood, a previous difficult home life or an enforced partnership resulting from pregnancy. Difficulties related to the pregnancy, delivery and other circumstances surrounding the birth of the child. One parent is not the birth parent. The parent or carer was abused and/or deprived themselves in childhood. A parent with a learning disability who may be poorly prepared for parenthood and lack the understanding, resources, skills and experience to meet the needs of a child. 26 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

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32 Procedures for the management of individual cases 1.0 MAKING A REFERRAL 1.1 Everyone has a responsibility for the protection of children and there is a duty placed on all those working with children and families to report concerns. This is not a matter for individual choice. All agencies must have clear in-house procedures which describe what should happen if anyone has concerns for the welfare of a child. 1.2 Advice and information should be available from designated professionals about when and how to refer to the Children & Young People s Service. Any discussion about a child s welfare should be recorded in writing, including a note of the date and who took part in the discussion. At the close of a discussion, there should be clear and explicit agreement about who will be taking what action, or that no further action will be taken. This agreement should also be recorded in writing. 1.3 However, such discussion should never delay emergency action to protect a child. Anyone believing that a child is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm must make a referral to the Children & Young People s Service as soon as possible. Under no circumstances should any essential emergency action to safeguard a child or urgent medical treatment be delayed. 1.4 All referrals by professionals to the Children & Young People s Service should be made to the Duty and Assessment Team by telephone, fax, or in person, and should be confirmed in writing within 48 hours using the Notification of Child in Need Form (SC1). The written referral should be acknowledged by the Children & Young People s Service within one working day of receipt. If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement within three working days, they should contact the Children & Young People s Service again. 1.5 Where available, the following information should be provided with the referral (but absence of information must not delay referral). Where a Common Assessment has begun or been completed, this information may already have been recorded: Full names, date of birth and gender of the child or children; Family address; Identity of those with parental responsibility; Names and date of birth of all household members; Ethnicity, first language and religion of the children and parents/carers; Any need for an interpreter, signer or other communication aid; Any special needs of the child or children; Any significant/important recent or historical events/incidents in the child or family s life; Cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location; Child s current location and emotional and physical condition; Referrer s relationship and knowledge of child and parents/carers; Policy and Procedures 29

33 Known current or previous involvement of other agencies/professionals; Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral. 1.6 Normally a referral should be made only with the knowledge and informed consent of at least one person holding parental responsibility (a parent) and the young person (if appropriate). However, in some child protection cases: where sexual abuse is suspected or disclosed; where Fabricated or Induced Illness is suspected ; where there are fears for the safety of a child, or others when informing parents, carers or others; where it is not possible to contact the person whose consent is required immediately and prompt action is required to establish or ensure the child s safety. Seeking parental consent to a referral may increase the risk of significant harm to the child and/or prejudice any police investigation. In these cases, a referral may be made without consent. Any decision not to seek parental agreement should only be made in exceptional circumstances; the decision should be recorded on the agency file with the reasons for such a decision. The person receiving the referral should acknowledge this wish but should also explain to the referrer:- The duties and responsibilities of the Children & Young People s Service in responding to allegations of child abuse The welfare of the child is paramount and that, although their details will not be disclosed, the information they provide will be disclosed and their anonymity cannot be guaranteed. 1.8 The Duty and Assessment Team will check the information held on the Departmental Information System to establish whether:- The child/ren or adults are known to the Children & Young People s Service The child/ren are or have been subject to a Child Protection Plan There have been any previous referrals in respect of the child/ren or Adults There is an adult known to pose a risk of harm to children in the household The child/ren or adults are connected to other families known to the Directorate Any of the adults work within a child care setting. 1.9 The information obtained by the Duty and Assessment Team will be recorded on the Agency Check Form SC Some members of the public may wish to give their information in confidence or to remain anonymous when making a referral The Team Manager/Practice Manager, Duty and Assessment Team, in consultation with the referrer and other agencies as 30 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

34 necessary, will make a decision about the immediate safety of the child/ren and decide on the action to be taken in response to the referral. This decision should be made and recorded within one working day of receipt of the referral The actions which may be taken in response to a referral are: No further action is taken; Provision of information and advice; Referral or signposting to other agencies; Initial assessment. and qualified social worker, the assessment must be allocated to a suitably qualified social worker for the purpose of the assessment. Case is open to other Teams (including the Youth Offending Team) - the assessment will normally be undertaken by an appropriately trained and qualified social worker in the Duty and Assessment Team. Case is not known or open. An appropriately trained and qualified social worker in the Duty and Assessment Team will undertake the assessment The Duty and Assessment Team is responsible for ensuring that the referrer and the family (provided this does not increase any risk to the child) are informed of the outcome of the referral. This will be done as soon as possible and, in all cases, within a maximum of 7 working days If the referral meets the threshold for assessment, the decision will be recorded on the Referral Action Managers Decision Form SC Responsibility for completing the assessment will be allocated as follows: Case is already open to the Locality Team (MAST), Children & Young People s Disability Service or Looked After Team and held by an appropriately trained and qualified social worker - that social worker will undertake the assessment. If the case is not held by an appropriately trained 1.15 The duty to investigate child protection concerns takes precedence over other duties. The Team Manager (Duty and Assessment Team) has the authority to direct any suitably qualified social worker to undertake a child protection enquiry The Duty and Assessment Team will send a copy of the original SC1 to the Deputy Head of Safeguarding when a Section 47 investigation is undertaken All services/units within the Children & Young People s Service identifying concerns where it is suspected that a child is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm should complete a SC1 which is then sent to the Duty and Assessment Team who will process the information as for all other referrals Out of office hours, urgent referrals should be made to the Out of Hours Service. When the Out of Hours Service initiates an assessment they will complete the SC1, fax a Policy and Procedures 31

35 copy to the Duty and Assessment Team and send the original by post. The Duty and Assessment Team will process the information as for all other referrals. 2.0 INITIAL RESPONSE TO REFERRALS Initial assessment 2.1 All referrals of children to Wolverhampton Children & Young People s Service are subject to the assessment process described in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (The Assessment Framework). It enables systematic analysis, understanding and recording of what is happening to children within their families and within the wider community by an: Initial consideration of a referral, to be completed on the day the referral is received; Initial assessment, to be completed within a maximum of 7 working days of receipt of the referral; Core assessment, to be completed within 35 working days of the end of any initial assessment or strategy discussion. 2.2 These assessment stages involve gathering and analysing information under the three domains of the Assessment Framework. These are the: Children s developmental needs Parents or caregivers capacity to respond appropriately Impact of the wider family and environmental factors on parenting capacity and children. 2.3 An initial assessment may take a maximum of 7 working days. However, where it appears from the referral that there is reasonable cause to believe the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, or preliminary enquiries reveal this to be the case, the initial assessment may consist of little more than the clarification of the referral and a record check. 2.4 An initial assessment may conclude that the child is: Not in need, but might benefit from advice, referral or signposting to other agencies or services In need, but there is no suspected, actual or likely significant harm. In these cases, consideration should be given to whether the child might benefit from the provision of services under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 In need, and is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. In these cases the child may be in need of protection and there may also be a need for criminal investigation. An enquiry under Section 47 of the 1989 Children Act should be initiated. A child in need of protection and their family may also benefit from the provision of Section 17 services. 2.5 The initial assessment should be recorded on the appropriate documentation. All decisions in respect of the initial assessment, and the future actions to be taken, should be recorded and be endorsed by the relevant manager. Unless doing so would increase any risk of significant harm or jeopardise any police 32 Wolverhampton s Safeguarding Service

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