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6.6 Protocol with early Years and Schools

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. When and How to Make a Referral
  3. What Happens to the Referral
  4. Agency Checks
  5. Core Assessment
  6. Role of the Early Years Professional and School Professional
  7. When and How to Make a Referral to Early Years Services
  8. Disputes and Disagreements


1. Introduction

This Protocol aims to clarify the responsibilities of Districts Social Workers, and Early Years and school colleagues when either a Single Assessment is commenced.

In relation to these guidelines, it needs to be remembered that procedures governing Child Protection enquiries are set out in the London Child Protection Procedures, Child Protection s47 Enquiries Procedure.


2. When and How to Make a Referral

The Early Years and School’s professional will have made a professional assessment of the situation before making a referral to Specialist Children’s Services and Safeguarding.

Urgent referrals, where there are immediate child protection concerns, should be made by telephone. The referral will be made using the Inter-Agency Referral Record. This should be sent to the relevant District Assessment Team. Acknowledgement of the referral will be expected by using the tear off slip on the Referral Record.

It is expected that the referring person will have obtained the written consent from the parents before making the referral.

If parents, for whatever reason, are not informed this needs to be clearly stated. Where a referral has been made, the assessing Social Worker will contact the person making the referral to discuss the referral.

Should a member of the school staff be concerned about a child, but is unsure as to the type of referral to make and the level of urgency then that person should call the relevant District office and discuss the concern with the duty social worker or duty manager and determine via discussion how the matter should proceed. Alternatively they could discuss the matter with their own Manager or the Designated Teacher to determine how the matter should proceed.


3. What Happens to the Referral

All referrals will be responded to within 24 hours and a decision made as to further intervention. If no service is provided by Specialist Children’s Services and Safeguarding, the referrer will be informed of the reasons. If a decision is made to intervene, a Single Assessment will be started and a social worker allocated who will liaise with the person making the referral.

When the Assessment is completed the referrer will be informed of the outcome and any decisions as to future intervention regarding that child and family. The SIngle Assessment is to be completed in 7 working days. A Core Assessment is to be completed in 35 working days.


4. Agency Checks

Where a referral comes to Specialist Children’s Services and Safeguarding from another source, the Duty Social Worker is likely to contact the Early Years Service or school if the child /children are known to their service to check whether there are known concerns about the child.


5. Core Assessment

Note: Please see Protocol for SIngle Assessments (agreed with Southwark Safeguarding Children Board).

These are assessments that are comprehensive and need to be completed in 35 working days from the end of the Initial Assessment.

There are times when Early Years services and Schools will be involved in the Core Assessment process these are:

  • To attend a meeting to set out the scope, focus and timescales of the assessment, if required.
  • As a contributor to the assessment process in the form of direct work with the family or the provision of information.
  • In making available their professional judgement during the formulation of the Child in Need Plan that will co-ordinate ongoing work at the end of the assessment stage.
  • As a provider or facilitator of services to be offered as part of the assessment or the final plan.

When a Core Assessment is completed the referrer and others involved in the assessment will be informed of the outcome and further intervention outlined if identified. This will happen within 5 working days of the assessment being completed.


6. Role of the Early Years Professional and School Professional

Early years centres, nurseries (including workplace nurseries), childminders, playgroups, holiday one o’clock clubs and after-school clubs, schools and school support services play an increasingly important part in the lives of growing numbers of children. Many services will be offering a range of support to children and families experiencing problems and stress. This makes them well placed to intervene early and resolve difficulties before they become more serious

Early years services and schools may identify children where there are concerns about their developmental progress or well-being, or alternatively parents who have difficulties in responding to their child’s needs sufficiently or appropriately. Early years services and schools may contribute by:

  • Identifying and referring families to Specialist Children’s Services and Safeguarding;
  • Contributing to the assessment of children and their parents or carers, sometimes providing a specialist assessment of family relationships;
  • Providing services to support the child’s development and strengthen the parents’ capacity to respond, through routine work or as part of a Child in Need Plan, which is monitored and reviewed.


7. When and How to Make a Referral to Early Years Services

Referrals should be made in conjunction with the First Steps information booklet for carers and parents as a guide.

Applications for Southwark early years nurseries are made in a number of ways:

  1. Via the nursery link social workers based at District offices;
  2. Direct by the parent or carer to the early years centre;
  3. By contacting the information officer at early years for an application form;
  4. Emergency placements can be requested by contacting the Early Years Coordinator at John Smith House. This should be followed up in writing with an application to the Coordinator.

In all instances the application needs to be completed and other than emergencies will be considered at one of the twice-yearly Panels that take place at each of the early years centres.


8. Disputes and Disagreements

There will be occasions when colleagues across professions disagree about actions and interventions with children.

In these instances if the concerns are about how Specialist Children’s Services and Safeguarding has responded, the Early Years or school professional should contact the early Years Coordinator who will contact the relevant Service Manager of the District office to discuss the matter.

Similarly if Specialist Children’s Services and Safeguarding has concerns about how a school or Early Years centre have dealt with a situation then the key team manager should discuss the matter with their Service Manager who in turn will contact the Early years Coordinator about the matter.

End