What to expect: Initial Contact with Children and Family Services
What happens when you get in touch with us
All initial contact with Children and Family Services is made via the Contact Advice and Assessment Service (CAAS).
All calls made to CAAS during working hours will be answered by business support. Their role is to take your details and connect you to the appropriate person. Business Support workers are not trained social workers and will not be able to discuss the details of your case with you.
If your call is about a new referral, you will be put through to a qualified Social Worker within CAAS. They will then be able to discuss your concerns with you and give you advice where appropriate.
The social worker will ask if you have Parental Responsibility (PR) for the child (or children) who you have called about. If you do not have PR, the social worker will listen to and record the information which you wish to report to Children and Family Services. However, if you do not have PR it will not be possible for them to give you any information about that child or family.
If you are raising a concern about a child (or children), the social worker will use their professional knowledge to assess if there might be a risk of harm. They will also consider if the child (or children) are in need of any support or services.
Possible outcomes of contacting us
The possible outcomes of an initial contact with us are:
- You might be offered advice and, if necessary, you will be directed to other services which can best meet your needs
- No further action may be taken
- Further enquiries or information gathering may be undertaken. This could include enquiries undertaken by the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The MASH process is carried out by a multiagency team of professionals who work alongside CAAS
- A Single Assessment may be undertaken
- Child Protection enquiries may be undertaken
Gathering information from other professionals helps Children and Family Services to understand if the professionals who know your child (or children) are concerned about their welfare. This helps CAAS to make sure your child is adequately safeguarded and that you know where to go for support.
You will usually be asked to give your agreement before information gathering is carried out. However, there will be times when the need for agreement is overridden by the Duty Manager. Children and Family Services have a statutory responsibility to ensure that a child or children are adequately safeguarded.
There are clear thresholds in place for when a Single Assessment must be carry out or when Child Protection must be started.
Following any initial contact with CAAS, those people with PR for a child (or children) will be sent an outcomes letter. This letter outlines what Children and Family Services intend to do as a result of any concerns that have been brought to their attention. If the initial contact was made by a professional, they will also be sent a copy of the outcomes letter. Any professional who has been contacted for information during enquiries will also be sent an outcomes letter.
Children and Family Services have a statutory duty to investigate all concerns about the welfare of children which are drawn to their attention.
We aim to respond to all initial contacts within 24 hours. However, this time can sometimes be extended to allow for further investigation to be carried either by the duty worker or through the MASH process.
If a safeguarding issue is identified, immediate action will be taken.
All contact made with Children and Family Services via the CAAS team are overseen by an experienced manager.
Please note: if you already have an allocated worker your call will be put through to this worker. If your allocated worker is not available, you will either be asked to leave a message or offered a call back. A record of all calls received by the Social Work teams is kept on the central electronic record.
If your allocated worker is unavailable and you need to speak to a Social Worker urgently you will be put through to a member of the relevant team.
"Our purpose is to ensure that everything we do safeguards the vulnerable, promotes learning, improves health and wellbeing and provides support where it is needed to the most vulnerable"