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1.3.1 Blackburn with Darwen Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) Practice Guidance

Effective sharing of information between professionals and local agencies is essential for effective identification, assessment and service provision.

RELATED GUIDANCE

Working Together 2015

Children’s Continuum of Need and Response Framework – Blackburn with Darwen LSCB

AMENDMENT

In September 2017, this chapter was extensively updated and should be read throughout.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Shared Partner Vision for BwD MASH
  3. Partner Processes within MASH
  4. Roles of Partners in MASH
  5. Resolution of Disagreements in MASH


1. Introduction

This guidance is for all partners that contribute into the work of the Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). This guidance is not a stand-alone document and must be understood with their own agency’s safeguarding procedures and the multi-agency policies agreed by all partners of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). Throughout this guidance the relevant policies and procedures will be referenced, however there are five key documents that all practitioners should read to understand the team’s responsibilities, competencies, and statutory expectations before working in the MASH:

  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) – Introduction, Chapter 1 and 2 in particular;
  • BwD LSCB Children’s Continuum of Need and Response (CoNR) Framework;
  • BwD Children’s Services Risk Management Toolkit;
  • BwD LSCB Assessment Protocol; and
  • BwD LSCB Information Sharing Protocol.

The Introduction chapter of Working Together guidance sets out the statutory definition of safeguarding (protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment to their health and development; ensuring they grow up with safe and effective care; and taking action that enables them to have the best outcomes), and the statutory principles for an effective safeguarding system (the child’s needs are paramount; that safeguarding is everyone’s business meaning all services are required to contribute their part; and having a child-centred approach to all aspects of service provision that fully understands the needs and views of children). 

Chapter 1 of the guidance provides detail of statutory expectations (including timescales) of how children will be assessed to ensure the right help is provided. Not all the expectations will be delivered through the work of the MASH, however it is important to understand the linkages between different processes and how the part all multi-agency MASH practitioners undertake, links with other parts of the local safeguarding system. It is vital to understand that thorough and timely completion of tasks in MASH will impact on how effectively processes outside MASH (at universal service, at Child in Need, at Child Protection and at Looked-After Children levels) can be undertaken. The other four local documents listed above give more detailed guidance on local processes to use to ensure all practice in the MASH meets the statutory expectations.

Whilst a set of five documents may not seem great, they contain within them complex processes that at times may seem contradictory. It is vital that all practitioners in the MASH have access to regular management oversight, reflective supervision, multi-agency opportunities to learn together and opportunities to resolve different points of views. Where any practitioner has any queries, they should be clear how to access support and feel confident to improve their knowledge.

This practice guidance provides the key tasks that need to be completed in the MASH and the roles each partner agency must undertake to complete the tasks. Whilst initial screening of referrals is the key role of the MASH, there are also other information sharing and joint working roles the MASH assists with. These are also covered in this guidance.

Working Together guidance (para 6 of Chapter 1) sets out the key competencies and responsibilities in safeguarding all practitioners should have:

  • Ability to identify the symptoms and triggers of abuse and neglect;
  • Ability and knowledge to respond to the symptoms/triggers;
  • Ability and knowledge to share information lawfully; and
  • Ability to work together to provide the help children require.

For any practitioner in the MASH team, the four competencies above will be required in every referral or query that requires a response.


2. Shared Partner Vision for BwD MASH

To identify and make safe, at the earliest opportunity, all vulnerable people in our communities through the sharing of information and intelligence across the safeguarding partnership.

The appendix in LSCB’s Continuum of Need and Response (CoNR) Framework identifies indicators across six areas that a variety of partners may hold information and intelligence on – the sharing of information and intelligence of these presenting indicators is vital to assessing what services a child may require to be effectively safeguarded. The six areas are: Health; Education; Emotional & Behavioural Development; Identity, Family & Environmental factors; and Parenting Capacity.

Partner Processes prior to MASH Referral

The flowchart has been derived from Police processes in the MASH and has applicability for all partner agencies in line with the expectations set out in Working Together guidance.


3. Partner Processes within MASH

Click here to view the Partner Processes prior to MASH Referral Flowchart.


4. Roles of Partners in MASH

Working Together guidance outlines that within one working day of a referral being received a decision must be reached about the type of response a referral will be provided. The gathering of information/intelligence from all partners thus requires urgent allocation and action and each partner agency in the MASH must play their part to ensure the immediate local safeguarding response is effective.

Each partner agency has a common role to collate information in a timely manner so that a decision can be made on next steps, including immediate child protection action. However, how each partner undertakes tasks to fulfil their role will be different. Below is a brief summary of the roles that must be read in conjunction with the agency’s procedures and any service specifications for sector specific MASH arrangements.

MASH Team Manager

The responsibilities include:

  • The management and support of the Children’s Social Care staff within the team (Social Worker, A&C worker, RICs, CSO) and operational running of the MASH;
  • Decision making in response to contacts into MASH including authorising all referrals that require assessment by a social worker; authorising all cases requiring assessment by the Engage Team;
  • Where an immediate Strategy Discussion/Meeting is required, to convene this and record;
  • Decision making in response to contacts into MASH about children with disabilities or complex needs – where no safeguarding concerns are identified by a referrer, onward referral to the Hub/Duty Worker Children Disability Service for assessment of s.17 services; where safeguarding concerns are identified by the referrer for collation of information/intelligence to inform whether a social work assessment (supported by the Children Disability Service) is required at s.47; and
  • Initial co-ordination and decision making on responses to MAPPA level cases referred to Children’s Services – where the child of/associated with the offender is open to Children’s Services, the allocated social worker will be MAPPA’s key contact point; where a child of/associated with the offender is not currently open to Children’s Services, the manager will determine next steps in terms of information sharing with MAPPA, attending MAPPA meetings [1] about the offender, and assessment of the child’s needs/risks.

[1] MAPPA Meeting Minutes cannot be shared without the prior permission of the MAPPA Chair and should be stored securely outside of Protocol.

Advice & Consultation Worker and Social Worker

The responsibilities include:

  • Responding to queries from members of the public about child safeguarding concerns and determining whether the concerns require referral for multi-agency support or immediate child protection (CP concerns require immediate sharing with the Team Manager);
  • Provide support to referrers about their concerns and advise whether a referral needs to be made to MASH and at what level of the CoNR Framework;
  • Screen referrals to determine the MASH risk level in order to prioritise how quickly information/intelligence needs to be collated;
  • For referrals that are deemed to require universal, targeted, CAF or early help offer, record the decision on Protocol following approval by the Team Manager and forward the referral to the Child Support Officers (CSO); and
  • Support the RICs in the team with any queries they may receive or blockages they encounter to complete their co-ordination role.

Referral & Information Co-ordinator (RICs)

The responsibilities include:

  • As a first point of contact for professionals and the public, the RICs will record concerns raised, assist (where applicable for universal service or level 2 needs) in providing advice about suitable local services and respond to queries about child protection concerns from other statutory agencies (other public bodies, local authorities etc);
  • For concerns, information and intelligence through MASH referral forms, PVPs, contact by letter etc, about a child already open to Children’s Services the Protocol record will be updated; for information via a phone call the call will be forwarded to the social worker (if the social worker is not available, an email to the social worker and team manager will be sent within an hour with the message);
  • Record all referrals on Protocol considered appropriate to gather information/intelligence on, including whether consent has been obtained; where consent has been overridden the reasons provided by the referrer to be recorded clearly;
  • Undertake initial checks for information using available local authority (housing, transforming lives, community safety, education, early help) and partner (revenue, benefits, YJS) contacts/databases;
  • Assist the A&C Worker and Team Manager to communicate with the referrer about the outcome of referrals or seek additional information;
  • Record all Missing From Home (MFH) notifications from the police ensuring all information from police safe and well checks is recorded (where relevant liaising with the Police MFH Co-ordinator to obtain additional information or clarify information);
  • Respond to information requested by CAFCASS about any Children’s Services involvement with a child for Public and Private Law proceedings within five working days of the email; and
  • Respond to information requested by NPS or CRC about any children living in households connected with offenders they are managing within five working days of the contact.

Child Support Officer

The responsibilities include:

  • Where a CAF, Early Help or Targeted service response (Level 2, CoNR) is decided by the MASH Team Manager, liaise with the referrer to decide on how the referral will be made;
  • Where a universal service response (Level 1, CoNR) is decided by the MASH Team Manager (with partner input), liaise with the referrer to sign post to relevant universal service providers;
  • Refer to undertake a CAF where a referral for pre-birth assessment (prior to 16 weeks gestation) is received that does not indicate immediate child protection (level 4) concerns following the pre-birth protocol;
  • Assist to undertake home visits (as deemed necessary);
  • Assisting RICs to access Early Help/CAF information and providing advice/support to referrers; and
  • Completing for the Engage Team, Return to Home Interviews (RHIs) and collating partner information/intelligence for a child not known to Children’s Services and whose Police safe and well check does not indicate any Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) concerns.

Domestic Violence Advisor

The responsibilities include:

  • Initial consideration of domestic abuse incident in the context of previous notifications and/or CSC involvement;
  • Contact with the victim or relevant party and/or perpetrator (where appropriate), taking into consideration the relationship to involved children. When contacting the victim the aim is to revisit the risk assessment/gather an update on police involvement, consider the victim and children's immediate safety, consider any additional support required and to enable consideration of the impact of domestic abuse on the children.  When contacting the perpetrator the aim to provide information and advice with regard to the impact of domestic abuse on children and to signpost to appropriate services;
  • Represent CSC at monthly MARAC meetings, co-ordination of CSC’s response to requests for information made by the chair of the conference, recording of all identified actions, and liaising with Social Workers as appropriate to ensure they are aware of allocated actions and these actions have been carried out;
  • The Domestic Violence Advisor will provide advice and guidance to CSC practitioners and where relevant to partners in MASH in relation to issues of domestic abuse, including the provision of training.

Engage Team Worker

BwD Engage Team is a multi-agency team aimed at assisting in the early identification, assessment and planning for children and young people vulnerable to, or at risk of sexual exploitation (CSE). The Engage Team Worker will attend MASH daily (part-time) to review referrals to the Engage Team and review any other MASH referral where indicators of CSE are identified/suspected by partners in the team.

The responsibilities include:

  • Complete appropriate enquiry and collating information tasks as required by the MASH Team Manager/Partners;
  • Discussions with the referrer and parents/carers to enable further consideration of any CSE vulnerability/risk indicators;
  • Meet with children/young people where further information is required with regard to identified unmet need/risk indicators to enable consideration as to appropriate level of intervention on the CoNR in line with the Risk Management Toolkit and CSE Toolkit; and
  • Liaison with Engage Police where further information/intelligence may be required to inform decision making.

The MASH Team Manager will initiate on Protocol a CSE Flag that will alert the Engage Team Manager to allocate the case for multi-agency assessment.

Police

The overall responsibilities include:

  • Quality assuring PVPs raised by frontline police officers through checking information with the police officer attending incidents/investigating officer, checking other police team databases including PNC checks for incidents and intelligence, and liaison with safeguarding officers; and
  • Providing police information/intelligence for MASH referrals that have not been received through the police PVP pathway.

Detective Sergeant

The responsibilities include:

  • Provide direction and leadership in the processing of vulnerable person referrals, quality assuring this process, to ensure the effective management of risk, working collaboratively with partners (through Strategy Discussions/Strategy Meetings) to identify suitable safeguarding strategies;
  • Provide a link between divisional Public Protection Units/Safeguarding Teams and the MASH to ensure safeguarding and investigative tasks are completed expeditiously in accordance with policy and by appropriately skilled staff.

Police Referral Assistant

The responsibilities include:

  • Referral Assistants have responsibility for ensuring that police information recorded on Domestic Abuse, Vulnerable Child and Adult at Risk referrals is correct and appropriately completed - they research Police systems, produce Police chronologies, quality assure all standard, medium and high risk referrals and provide Lancashire Police & PNC information that is proportionate and necessary;
  • Will complete immediate safeguarding checks from police databases for partner agencies.

Health (Lancashire Care Foundation Trust on behalf of the local health economy)

The overall responsibilities for the specialist safeguarding practitioner and administrator include:

  • Collate health (physical, emotional and sexual health) information from health services across the local health economy for the child (and where relevant for parents) and analyse the information for any unmet health needs and potential unmet need/risk indicators across the other five areas covered in the CoNR (Education; Emotional & Behavioural Development; Identity, Family & Environmental factors; and Parenting Capacity);
  • Share information with providers of health services in primary care (GPs, health visitors, school nurses) relating to concerns in PVPs/MASH referrals and decisions reached in MASH;
  • Liaise with secondary and tertiary health services to share information relating to PVP/MASH decisions and obtain from providers relevant information relating to risk or unmet need indicators that the provider may have in child/adult records;
  • Assist in the decision making process with MASH Team Manager/Partners; and
  • Support the Police and Children’s Social Care identify children for whom limited details are provided by the referrer. 

Changing Lives (Domestic Abuse Service)

The responsibilities include:

  • All PVPs are screened by a Senior IDVA/Manager and allocated to appropriate worker within Changing Lives;
  • Contact is made with the victim by the appropriate worker so that early intervention assists with ensuring safety planning is completed and any immediate risk of harm to the victim (and child) is identified;
  • An updated record on the victim’s person log held on the police system is completed together with any interventions that have taken place (this information can enhance any safeguarding decisions that need to be made and inform the risk management plan); the worker ensures that any information about current or previous service provision, immediate safety planning and any re-assessment of risk level is provided to the RIC/partners; and
  • Where PVPs received outside normal working days highlight any child safeguarding concerns, these concerns are to be shared with Blackburn with Darwen Emergency Duty Team (EDT). The allocated Changing Lives worker that has picked up PVPs outside normal working days will check with Police MASH Officers during the normal working week about any changes to risk assessment following their quality assurance process. The worker will ensure that service responses are adjusted where any risk assessment changes have taken place.

Housing

The responsibilities include:

  • Provision of support, advice and assistance regarding housing issues as required, including contacts for safeguarding leads in housing associations/housing providers; and
  • Provision of information on any homeless presentations by parents and details of which housing provider they were referred to.

The Housing Needs Officer is based within MASH half a day per week. 

Probation (NPS & CRC)

The MASH/PNC Practitioners work Pan-Lancashire and are based within Lancashire MASH. They provide information to the MASH and to the relevant probation service (National Probation Service or Community Rehabilitation Company). They provide support to Blackburn with Darwen MASH remotely on a daily basis. 

The responsibilities include:

  • Provide relevant offender management information (current and past) in respect of all PVP referrals;
  • Share PVP information and outcome of MASH decisions with the Offender Manager if a person named on the PVP is currently open to Probation Services; and
  • Provide relevant offender management information (current and past) in respect of all non-PVP referrals where they indicate an adult may be known to Probation Services.

Change Grow Live (Inspire & Go2 Substance Misuse Services)

The responsibilities include:

  • Provides support, advice and assistance with regard to alcohol and substance use/misuse issues in order to support risk assessment of presenting circumstances;
  • All PVPs where alcohol or substance misuse has been identified within a PVP and where consent to share information has been obtained, are shared with CGL by the Police at point of finalisation; and
  • PVPs are screened by CGL and appropriate action taken to offer services.

The Partnerships, Families and Communities Manager is based within MASH on a monthly basis, however is available remotely (daily) as required. 

Education Inclusion Officer

The responsibilities include:

  • Liaises with schools/education providers within and out of Blackburn with Darwen in order to share information about MASH Referrals;
  • Liaises with schools/education safeguarding and pastoral leads to ensure immediate services are provided to a child to promote their welfare;
  • Liaises with schools/education safeguarding and pastoral leads to collate relevant education information (attendance, behaviour, attainment indicators) for the child  and analyse the information for any potential indicators across the other five areas covered in the CoNR (Health; Emotional & Behavioural Development; Identity, Family & Environmental factors; and Parenting Capacity);
  • Quality assuring referrals from education providers and communicating feedback as appropriate;
  • Maintains links with Education Safeguarding Leads (Head Teachers, Designated Safeguarding Leads, Pastoral Staff as appropriate) via half termly meetings.

The Education Safeguarding Officer is based within MASH half day on a daily basis. 


5. Resolution of Disagreements in MASH

In undertaking MASH tasks there will from time to time be disagreements with referrers and with partners in the MASH. If the CSC Team Manager in MASH cannot resolve any differences then the concerns will be escalated initially to the CSC Service Lead and thereafter to the Head of Service if no resolution is reached (in line with the Pan-Lancashire Dispute Resolution Process). It is the responsibility of the Team Manager in MASH to record all disagreements with referrers on Protocol. Where partners in the MASH are involved in resolving differences about MASH decisions, all relevant partners will record details on their respective recording systems.

End