Child protection enquiries
Social Care are always the lead agency in child protection, and as such the decision to enter the process rests with the manager of the team receiving the information. Recording of decisions and the reasons for these decisions is therefore key.
The purpose of child protection enquiries is work out whether a child is suffering, or could suffer, significant harm. The law defines harm as ill-treatment or the impairment of health or development (including seeing or hearing harm caused to others). Being witness to harm is important as this covers areas such as living in a home where there is constant domestic abuse between parents. There are however no clear cut definitions as to what is harmful and what is not, and whether the trigger is one event (e.g. an assault) or a build-up of issues over time (e.g. neglect), this is down to professional judgement.
The starting point of any child protection enquiry is a strategy discussion.
There may be times when immediate action is required to ensure the safety of the child and that of other children in the household or linked to the alleged perpetrator.
It is necessary to take action without there being time to hold a strategy discussion (e.g. the Police safeguarding a child under their powers of protection) - when this happens a strategy discussion should be held as soon as possible afterwards to plan the next steps.
What can we do to immediately protect a child?
Children could be protected through:
- the alleged perpetrator leaving the home
- the child (and any other children at risk) staying elsewhere (e.g. family / friends)
- the child being taken in to care (either through s20, or under police protection or an emergency protection order)
- the police using their powers of entry to allow an assessment to take place.
All such action should be agreed with your line manager.
Help from other agencies
All agencies: schools, housing and health bodies all have a duty to assist and provide information in support of child protection enquiries. The decision to start child protection enquiries means that if necessary you can override confidentiality for the purposes of protecting a child. Wherever possible however you should work in partnership with the carers of the child.
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- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities