Step Up / Step Down

NOTE: Safeguarding procedures should always take precedence, and nothing within this policy should be used to delay a referral to Children's Social Care if it is believed that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm.

This document should be read in conjunction with the Hull Safeguarding Children Partnership, Threshold of Need Framework and Guidance.

See also Step Up Flowchart and Step Down Flowchart.

AMENDMENT

In October 2018, the Step Up Flowchart and Step Down Flowchart linked from the procedure were updated.

1. Introduction

The needs of children, young people (YP) and families do not easily fit in to categories or boxes. Circumstances can change quickly, and over time a child or young person will have differing needs dependent on variables within and surrounding their family. As such, the level of assistance required by individual families will differ. This policy focuses on the procedure for those families who may need to either 'Step Up' to Children's Social Care involvement from Targeted Early Help support, or indeed 'Step Down' from having a Social Care involvement to having Targeted Early Help support, or 'Step Down' to a single specialist, targeted or universal service.

Regardless of where on the continuum of need a child / YP / family are, it must be remembered that safeguarding children and promoting their wellbeing, is everyone's responsibility and, as such, the success achieved by / for children, YP and families is dependent on a culture of partnership working. No single professional can have a full picture of a child's needs and circumstances.

2. Stepping Down from Children's Social Care

See also Step Down Flowchart.

A child / YP should not remain with a social worker as lead practitioner under s.17 when sufficient improvement has taken place alleviating the risk of harm to any child or children within the family.

2.1 CIN Review Meeting

When it has been agreed, by those involved in the case, (including the family) that s.17 intervention is no longer required a Child in Need (CIN) Review Meeting must be held.

It is the Social Worker's responsibility to arrange the CIN Review Meeting, including the circulation of invites. Invites should be issued to the parent(s), child, and any other family member or advocate that the family has utilised throughout the CIN process. All professionals involved in the case, including any voluntary agencies should also be invited, as well as any other person who has been identified as being of particular value to any identified on-going support that is to be offered to the family.

Thought should be given to the location and time of the meeting, with preference given to a venue close to the family's home. If this is not possible the family, if they wish to attend, should be assisted as best as possible. If the child / YP wishes to attend then all efforts should be made for the review to take place outside of school hours.

In all cases the Social Worker must ensure that there is an up-to-date Child's Plan in place, and that any existing Social Care Assessment is still relevant and factual, i.e. details of household members.

2.2 CIN Review Meeting Discussion

The CIN Review Meeting will be chaired by the Children's Social Care Team Manager, the Advanced Social Worker or the Allocated Social Worker. Who will chair the meeting should be agreed during the course of the discussion when it is decided that no further Children's Social Care involvement is necessary.

During the CIN Review Meeting the following should be discussed, working within the Strengthening Families Framework, in order to update the Child's Plan going forward, with an emphasis on actions that will support the sustainability of the achieved changes in the context of Early Help and / or the community:

  • What were the risks and needs present in the child / YP's situation that led to social care intervention?
  • Are there any complicating factors?
  • What are the current protective factors and strengths? If this includes people, in what capacity do they know the child / YP, what is their relationship to the family if they do not live in the household?
  • Are there any grey areas? What would it look like if risk was to increase again?
  • Are there any warning signs that practitioners and the family should be aware of that would assist in early recognition and addressing of problems that could reduce the potential for the child, YP and family being re-referred to Children's Social Care?
  • What specific work has been undertaken to reduce the level of risk and address needs? Be sure that this includes the family's contribution, their engagement level, and any changes that they have achieved. Also note if there has been any reluctance to change or if there were certain aspects of work which they refused to take part in;
  • What outcomes still need to be achieved? Although the safeguarding risk may have been resolved, the child, YP and family may still have other support needs, as recognised either by themselves or by practitioners around them;
  • Does the child / YP and family need to 'Step Down' to Targeted Early Help Services with an identified Lead Practitioner? Do the family give consent?
  • Do the child, YP and family need to 'step down' to a single specialist, targeted or universal service?
  • Has all the relevant information been clearly communicated to the child / YP and family?

Not all children who have received help and support from Children's Social Care will need to access Targeted Early Help support once safeguarding concerns have been addressed, in this situation Children's Social Care should close the case with appropriate signposting to universal support or with consent from the child, young person or family make a referral into a specific targeted or specialist service as appropriate.

If the family do not consent to any ongoing support and safeguarding concerns have been addressed Children's Social Care will close the case. The family will be signposted to appropriate universal services, and it will be the family who will decide whether or not they utilise these services.

2.3 Identifying a Lead Practitioner for Targeted Early Help Support

When a child, YP and family is being supported by Children's Social Care, the Lead Practitioner will always be the Social Worker, however if support is to 'Step Down' to Targeted Early Help this role will need to be fulfilled by another practitioner. For ease of transition, which will ultimately benefit the child, YP and family and any future multi-agency working, it is beneficial if the new Lead Practitioner is identified at the CIN Review Meeting. It is important that the child's needs are met by the most appropriate agency. In many cases it will be evident who the best person to fulfil this role will be, and this can be verified at the meeting.

The Lead Practitioner will be the person who is most relevant to the Child's Plan and who has the skills to carry out the Lead Practitioner functions. When identifying a Lead Practitioner, consideration should be given to:-

  • The predominant needs of the child, young person or family;
  • The level of trust built up with the child, young person or family;
  • The wishes of the child, young person or family;
  • The person with primary responsibility for addressing the child, young person or family's needs;
  • Where there is a clear statutory responsibility for a specific agency or practitioner to lead, such as Children's Social Care or the Youth Offending Team.

Ideally, the Lead Practitioner will be a person who will have the greatest interaction with the child / family, but, if for whatever reason, this is not viable then it will be appropriate for another member of the Team around the Family (TAF) to take on the role.

If in exceptional circumstances a Lead Practitioner is not identified at the CIN Review Meeting, then this must be clearly noted within the text box when transitioning to Early Help.

The Social Worker must ensure that the minutes from the CIN Review Meeting are sent to the Lead Practitioner, or where a Lead Practitioner is not identified to the Early Help Co-ordinator within 10 working days, these must also be entered on to LiquidLogic.

2.4 Case Closure

Following the CIN Review Meeting the case must be closed within LiquidLogic, within 10 working days.

The following information must be included within the Case Closure:

  • Why Children's Social Care had been involved;
  • What work has been undertaken whilst the case has been open?
  • What has changed, allowing for the case to be closed?
  • Have parent(s) accepted 'Step Down' Services – are these Targeted, specialist or universal?
  • If Targeted Early Help who is the identified Lead Practitioner?

Where the family have given consent for the case to 'Step Down' to Targeted Early Help, a handover should be undertaken by the Social Worker and the new Lead Practitioner, prior to closing the case.

The Social Worker must ensure when closing the case that this is transitioned to Early Help, choosing the relevant work tray (East, North, West), via Liquidlogic. In the text box available, the Social Worker must state which internal Early Help Service the case is to be allocated to. In the event that a lead agency was not identified at the CIN Review Meeting this must be noted in the text box, to be followed up by the Early Help area lead.

If the family do not consent to any ongoing support and safeguarding concerns have been addressed Children's Social Care will close the case. The family will be signposted to appropriate universal services, and it will be the family who will decide whether or not they utilise these services.

3. Stepping Up

See also Step Up Flowchart.

If a child / YP / family are in receipt of services from any agency within Targeted Early Help and there are concerns from the Lead Practitioner or other TAF / TAYP (Team around the Young Person) practitioners that needs and/or risks are increasing, but they are unsure whether the threshold for Children's Social Care involvement is met, the Lead Practitioner can contact the locality Early Help Social Worker to discuss their concerns. NOTE - if there is a clear Child Protection concern then a referral must be made in to EHaSH by the person with the concern, this should not be delayed.

A discussion with the locality Early Help Social Worker should result in 1 of 3 outcomes

  1. Advice is given, or a joint visit undertaken but no other input is required;
  2. It is agreed that there are some complexities and further discussions will be held at the next Early Help Action Meeting (EHAM);
  3. There is a safeguarding concern and the family will need a formal referral to EHaSH.

There can be fluidity within these stages, and any stage can be re-visited at any time.

3.1 Advice

There will be times when a case held within Targeted Early Help, will become static, a deterioration occurs, or family composition changes; bringing with it potential risks or vulnerabilities which mean the TAF practitioners require the advice of a Social Worker. It may be that there is uncertainty as to what steps may be required, whether there are any threshold concerns, or merely to seek a Social Work overview. Professionals are encouraged to utilise the Early Help Social Worker Help and Advice facility as required. The Social Worker can be reached via the Early Help Hub.

  • West Locality Early Help Hub – Priory Children Centre, tel: 305770;
  • East Locality Early Help Hub – Acorns Children Centre, tel: 708953;
  • North Locality Early Help Hub – Lemon Tree Children Centre, tel: 828901.

If there is a clear safeguarding concern then a referral should be made to Children's Social Care via the Early Help and Support Hub (EHsSH) by telephoning (01482) 448879.

3.2 Early Help Action Meeting (EHAM)

EHAM's allow for those involved with a family to take a holistic view of the family including any outside variables that may be affecting the progression of any work that is been undertaken. In cases where concern is growing, this meeting can help to build confidence in decision making, managing risk and collaborative working. An up to date Early Help Plan and Assessment should be available at this meeting.

EHAM membership includes children's centre provision, targeted youth support, substance misuse, housing options, parenting practitioners, Children's Social Care and other targeted services. The meeting is solution focused and all practitioners are expected to contribute and prepared to accept 'actions' as required.

If there is a clear safeguarding concern then a referral should be made to Children's Social Care via the Early Help and Support Hub (EHaSH) by telephoning (01482) 448879

3.3 Referral to Children's Social Care (from Targeted Early Help)

If there is a safeguarding concern then a referral must be made to Children's Social Care via the Early Help and Support Hub (EHaSH). This may be as a result of advice given by the Early Help Social Worker, the outcome of an EHAM or a direct referral due to safeguarding concerns.

Parents (and the child / YP where appropriate must) be informed about any referral to Children's Social Care, and the reasons for this, unless to do so could cause a risk of further harm. Unlike the process for referring to Targeted Early Help whereby parents and children / YP can refuse services, a referral to Children's Social Care as result of safeguarding concerns cannot be withheld even if parents do not give their consent. In such cases the person making the referral is responsible for explaining to parents that the referral will go ahead and why.

Following a referral to EHaSH the multi-agency team within the Hub will determine the best way forward based on the information available. This will result in one of the following:

  • That the child does not meet the threshold of a Child in Need (under Section 17 Children Act 1989) and it is appropriate for the case to remain with Targeted Early Help services. The initial contact will be recorded on Liquidlogic. The referrer will be informed of this decision and why and may be offered advice or information or signposted to another more appropriate service;
  • That there are concerns:
    • About the child's health and development and a Children's Social Care Assessment is required to establish whether the child is a Child in Need and what services would best meet those needs;
    • That the child may be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and a Strategy Discussion and/or Meeting is required to determine whether a Section 47 Enquiry is required.

If a Children's Social Care Assessment is required this will be carried out by a member of the Assessment team or passed across to one of the three localities.

Children's Social Care Assessment carried out by the Assessment Team

A Children's Social Care Assessment will be carried out by the Assessment Team if the referral is for:

  • A new case;
  • A case that has been closed for more than 3 months; or
  • A case that has been closed for less than 3 months, but the referral is for a safeguarding concern that did not previously exist.

A Children's Social Care Assessment carried out by the locality team

An Assessment will be carried out by a social worker in the relevant locality team, if:

  • The case was previously open to the locality and has been closed for less than 3 months, providing that safeguarding concerns are the same as previous and there are no new safeguarding concerns.

Professional referrers should always be informed about what action is to be taken by Children's Social Care, including if no action is to be taken and the reasons why. Feedback on the outcome of the referral should also be provided to non-professional referrers in a manner consistent with respecting the confidentiality of the child.

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs