Referrals to services regarding concerns about a child or family typically fall into 3 categories:
- early help services
- child in need - Section 17 (S17) (Children Act 1989) referrals
- child protection - Section 47 (S47) (Children Act 1989) referrals
Referrals requesting early help - including Youth Offending Service (YOS) early help and targeted interventions will all come through MASH but will be subject to screening and decision making by the MASH main decision maker and directed to the appropriate service or agency.
The early help service will consider all referrals that fall within level 2 (with a CAF) of the Thurrock threshold document and following MASH screening.
Children's social care will only consider those referrals which relate to S17 (children in need) or Section 47 (children in need of protection) of the Children Act 1989.
The use of the CAF is critical to the success of targeted early help and current guidelines regarding this are set out in this document for information.
Safeguarding and child protection work should always be underpinned by principles of working in partnership with families. In principle, parents or carers must be informed that a service is making a referral to social care safeguarding services. This should only not occur where there is a specific risk of harm to a child and sharing the information with the parent or carer would place the child at further risk. Examples of this might be child sexual abuse, honour-based violence, fabricated or induced illness.
Prior to any written CAF being sent as a referral to social care, practitioners should consult with their child protection leads and/or verbally with the MASH duty desk to ensure that making a referral is an appropriate action.
Once a referral has taken place, early help or social care staff has no mandate to compel parents to undertake assessments or accept services, although there may be consequences for the family if recommended services or interventions are not taken up by parents or carers.
All child protection referrals should be made to the MASH team either by telephone or through an inter-agency referral from.
The MASH should acknowledge referrals within one working day of receipt. If this does not occur within 3 working days, the referrer should contact MASH again.