Our aim is to support families in caring for their children. Sometimes other professionals can help you more than we can. Sometimes both children’s services and others need to work together with you. Whatever the situation, we will explain what is happening and why.
How do we decide which children to assess and help?
Parents, the general public and professionals will make contact with our Duty team on 01225 396111 or 01225 477929, if they are concerned about a child. Out of office hours the Emergency Duty Team can be contacted on 01454 615165
The Duty Team will generally inform the referrer and the parent or carer what action will be taken, and this could include an assessment of the child’s needs.
If it is decided that the child is in need, they must make a decision about how we will respond within 24 hours of receiving that notification or sooner if there is a child protection concern.
The Duty Team can provide information and advice, the referrer may be signposted to other services or an assessment may be undertaken.
If a Single assessment is required, a social worker will be allocated to complete the assessment.
Making a referral
When people get in touch with us to ask for a service we call this ‘making a request for a service’. Many of our service requests come from families themselves. Sometimes another professional like your doctor or health visitor may have talked to you about the help children’s services can offer. You may have agreed with them that they will make the referral. Whatever the circumstances, we will need your agreement before we talk to anyone else, unless to get that agreement would put your child at risk of significant harm.
The assessment process
Assessment involves talking to you and to other people and professionals you agree should be part of the process. We will also want to meet the children. The assessment timescale is set by a social care manager and can vary between 15 and 45 days. In emergencies, we can provide services very quickly. The services provided already by other professionals should continue while children’s services are coordinating the assessment.
How parents and carers can help
You know your situation better than anyone and so we will listen carefully to what you have to say. Arrangements for the assessment will be discussed and agreed with you.
What can I expect?
The child’s Social Worker and other professionals will discuss with you what is happening during the assessment and will be committed to keeping appointments. They will act professionally at all times and will always act in the best interests of your child.
Whatever the timescale for the assessment, where particular needs are identified at any stage of the assessment, social workers should not wait until the assessment reaches a conclusion, before referring to services to support the child and their family.
Assessments will be undertaken alongside parents/carers and children/young people as appropriate to their age and understanding. All relevant agencies will be asked to contribute to the assessment. When completing an assessment as a shared process, it can become a therapeutic tool which is seen as being of value to parents/carers and children/young people.
The assessment will include information regarding the child’s stage of development. This is a helpful baseline against which to monitor progress and to consider whether and how their outcomes are improving. This is important as it should reduce the need for repeat assessments.
How will I know the outcome of the assessment?
The assessment will be carried out with you. When it is finished, the assessment will be written, and you will be given a copy, together with the recommendations of the social worker and their manager. You will have the opportunity to make comments of your own, including rectifying any factual inaccuracies, which will be recorded alongside the assessment on file.
For more information visit our Children's Social Care pages.