Multi Agency Support Hub
You should make enquiries to the Multi-Agency Support Hub (MASH) in writing using the enquiry form.
The MASH is a single point of entry to multi-agency help and support for children, young people and their families who have additional needs and who require the support of more than one agency or professional. The MASH meets on a daily basis and is made up of representatives from key statutory agencies:
· Child Health
· School Attendance Service
· Children's Social Care
Other agencies who attend regularly include: the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS); the Community Drug and Alcohol Team (CDAT); The Hub (Barnardo's); the Youth Justice Service; the Children's Convenor and Action for Children.
If you send in a written referral and Children's Services have not contacted you within three working days then you must contact them.
If you are worried that a child is being mistreated and is at risk of harm, it is important that you let us know as soon as possible. During normal office hours (Monday to Friday, 8.45am - 5.00pm except public holidays), you should contact the MASH team on 723182. If the situation is urgent outside of these hours, please call the Emergency Duty Team on 725241. If you think a child might be in immediate danger, please call the Police.
What happens next?
Partners in the MASH will share relevant information to decide if:
· The child has been harmed, or could be harmed in the future; or
· The child would benefit from support from other agencies who help children and their families.
· there is a need for immediate protective action and/or
· services should be provided and/or
· another agency should deal with the matter, and/or
· you need to continue to monitor the situation and/or
· further information is needed and/or
· there is a need to make a referral to the Convenor or
· no further action (a record of the referral will be kept).
Areas to consider when making enquiries
It will help if you consider;
· why you think it is necessary to discuss the matter with the MASH team
· what information you can give them about the child's world
· what this child needs to grow and develop
· what this child needs from the people who look after him or her
· what this child needs from their wider world
· how you will remain involved with the family
· whether the parents know that you are making this referral
· whether the parents agreed to you making this referral
· what you want children's services to do.
What do I do if services are unable to get involved?
Sometimes Children's Services may be unable to get involved. This could be because the situation is not serious enough, or because there is not yet enough information. In either case, you need to be clear about what your continued involvement will be in regards to monitoring the child's situation. This may include continuing to follow up concerns, working with the family and collecting further information etc.
If you continue to have concerns for the child but are not satisfied with the response from the MASH you should speak with your line manager. They may decide to speak with the manager/service manager responsible for the MASH.
Only if line managers cannot agree then the matter should be referred to the Children's Services, Quality Assurance Manager, who will bring this to the attention of the Chair of the Islands Child Protection Committee. This will be in line with Islands Child Protection Committee Policy for Resolving Professional Disagreements.
If you remain concerned and you believe that the test for compulsory intervention, set out in the Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008 (s.35) might be met, you may refer the matter to the Children's Convenor.
What does research tell us?
Research by Dendy Platt (2006) shows that judgements by social workers are not made solely on the basis of the risk to the child. They are also affected by;
· the motives of the parents
· what other professionals say
· how specific the description of the harm to the child is
· the worker's own interpretation of seriousness.
Other problems are that;
· information taken at the point of referral is not adequately recorded
· facts are not checked
· reasons for decisions are not noted.
For these reasons, social workers should ask themselves:
· am I sure the information I have noted is 100 per cent accurate?
· if I didn't check my notes with the family and other contributors during the interview, what steps should I take to verify them?
· do my notes show clearly the difference between the information the family gave me, my own direct observations, and my interpretation or assessment of the situation?
· do my notes record what actions I have taken/will take, and what actions all other relevant people have taken/will take?
See Cleaver H, Wattam C and Cawson P: Assessing Risk in Child Protection, London, NSPCC (1998)
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