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Blackburn with Darwen Children's Advice and Duty Service (CADS) Practice Guidance

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


Working Together to Safeguard Children

Children's Continuum of Need and Response Framework - Blackburn with Darwen CSAP


In February 2020, this chapter was extensively updated and should be re-read throughout.

1. Introduction

This guidance is for all partners that contribute into the work of the Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) Children's Advice and Duty Service (CADS). 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 Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP). 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 CADS:

  • Working Together to Safeguard Children – Introduction, Chapter 1 and 2 in particular;
  • BwD CSAP Children's Continuum of Need and Response (CoNR) Framework;
  • BwD Children's Services Risk Management Toolkit;
  • BwD CSAP Assessment Protocol; and
  • BwD CSAP 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 CADS, however it is important to understand the linkages between different processes and how the part all multi-agency CADS practitioners undertake, links with other parts of the local safeguarding system. It is vital to understand that thorough and timely completion of tasks in CADS will impact on how effectively processes outside CADS (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 CADS 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 CADS 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 CADS and the roles each partner agency must undertake to complete the tasks. Whilst initial screening of referrals is the key role of the CADS, there are also other information sharing and joint working roles the CADS 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 CADS team, the four competencies above will be required in every referral or query that requires a response.

2. Shared Partner Vision for BwD CADS

To identify and make safe, at the earliest opportunity, all vulnerable people in our communities, ensuring that they receive the right support at the right time. This may require the sharing of information and intelligence across the safeguarding partnership.

Our motto is 'Never Do Nothing' – but how we respond to enquiries will have clear focus around safeguarding and the team will support partners where appropriate to have confidence to accept more responsibility.

Not all contacts into CADS require multi-agency information sharing, and often advice and guidance provided by the Advanced Social Work Practitioner (AP) or Social Worker (SW) is a sufficient response. Some contacts into CADS will require a multi-agency approach to decision making to consider whether statutory social work intervention is required.

The appendix in CSAP'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.

CADS Outcomes

There are a number of possible outcomes following an initial contact into CADS:

  • No further action;
  • Advice and information provided resulting in no further action;
  • Referral to early help;
  • Referral to Referral & Assessment Team / Assessment & Safeguarding Team;
  • Further information required to inform decision making – CADS assessment required. Should a contact progress to a CADS assessment, this could result in any of the aforementioned outcomes.

This initial decision with regard to contact outcome will be made by the AP / SW with final oversight being provided by the CADS Team Manager; should there be any disagreement with regard to outcome this should be escalated to the CADS Team Manager.

3. Partner Processes prior to CADS Referral

Practitioner/Safeguarding Lead has concerns:

  • The Practitioner discusses concerns with agency's safeguarding lead/manager in line with single-agency safeguarding procedures. Reference is made to CSAP policies to identify whether there are potential symptoms or triggers of abuse and neglect. Advice is sought from safeguarding lead or senior manager/senior safeguarding lead;
  • Concerns remain and practitioner unsure if potential symptoms or triggers (based on the information they have received or disclosures made) require referral to CADS – contact AP or SW in the CADS for advice and guidance with consent of the parent / carer. Discussion will take place between practitioner and AP / SW considering the presenting information, any relevant historical information and previous offer of early help. The AP / SW will provide advice, guidance and support to enable to practitioner to appropriately address the concerns / provide support as required. Agreement will be reached with regard to next steps and whether it is appropriate for concerns raised to be accepted as referral into CADS (with consent) for further enquiries to be undertaken or referral is appropriate to another service (single or multi-agency). Where the AP / SW is unclear about unmet need and / or risk, the worker will consult with managers for further advice and support;
  • Written feedback will be provided to the professional by the AP / SW, outlining summary of the discussion and advice and guidance provided via email.

Practitioner identified symptoms or triggers of abuse and neglect:

  • Practitioner and Manager/Safeguarding Lead use own agency's safeguarding process to ensure all information available provides current concerns, at what level they feel an assessment/service is required (consistent with the Continuum of Need & Risk Management Toolkit) and precise history of previous service provision/incidents;
  • Practitioner will contact CADS with consent from parent / carer. Discussion will take place between practitioner and AP / SW considering the presenting information, any relevant historical information and previous offer of early help. The AP / SW will provide advice, guidance and support to enable to practitioner to appropriately address the concerns / provide support as required. Agreement will be reached with regard to next steps and whether it is appropriate for concerns raised to be accepted as referral into CADS (with consent) or referral is appropriate to another service (single or multi-agency). Where the AP / SW is unclear about unmet need and / or risk, the worker will consult with managers for further advice and support;
  • Written feedback will be provided to the professional by the AP / SW, outlining summary of the discussion and advice and guidance provided via e-mail;
  • Agency will ensure that their own recording policies have been adhered to, the right recording systems have been accessed and recorded on;
  • Agency will ensure that information that is shared in the referral is consistent with the CSAP's Information Sharing Protocol - consent to share information has to be obtained in all cases (consent must be specific, informed, unambiguous, freely given and is verifiable) unless there is recorded evidence for level 4 referrals that this can be overruled (by obtaining consent: it places the child at risk of harm; it prejudices the detection of a crime; or it leads to an unjustified delay in making enquiries). It is the legal responsibility of the referring agency to obtain consent, not CADS practitioners;
  • CADS will only seek consent where a referral is received through members of the public or by an anonymous source.

Police Referrals into CADS:

Lancashire Constabulary will share Police Safeguarding Referral (PSR), including standard, medium and high risk domestic abuse reports and vulnerable child reports where it is considered appropriate to do so. Initial oversight of police referrals will be undertaken by TM/AP/SW, or the DAA (in relation to domestic abuse PSRs only) and progress in line with other referrals depending on the presenting circumstances and necessity for further enquiries following initial screening.

Responsibilities within CADS where following initial contact CADS assessment is required.

Children's Social Care Activities (excluding Police DA referrals):

  • The AP/SW provides initial oversight and identifies outstanding information that is required. Partner agencies requested to provide relevant information to inform decision making;
  • Where appropriate to do so Children's Advice and Duty Service Support Officers (CADSSOs) will gather information as directed by the AP/SW;
  • All contact with parents/carers or other professionals where analysis of the information being requested/provided is required to inform the assessment should be undertaken by the AP / SW;
  • CADSSOs will ensure information about involved partners (current and past), the children's demographics and relationships are up to date. Checks will be completed as directed for complex safeguarding issues (CSE, MFH, Prevent, FGM, HBV, Modern Slavery, CCE, Online Safeguarding – these checks may include accessing partner databases that are remotely available to the team (revenue/benefits, education tribal database, youth justice involvement etc.). Where current or past early help services have been provided (CAF or Transforming Lives), confirm details of the Lead Professional;
  • Following completion of the CADS assessment, the AP / SW (with partner discussions if required) re-consider the presenting information and consider appropriate level on the CoNR, providing recommendation to the TM. For different types of abuse / neglect (or their likelihood), different indicators will be evident and different services may have knowledge of them. The TM (with assistance from partners) should decide on the providers that require contacting (beyond standard checks) to ensure a holistic oversight of the child's needs / risks are obtained.

Partner Activities:

  • Where partner practitioners within the CADS (or virtual presence) act on behalf of other providers within their sector, they will collate and record information in line with service specifications ensuring all relevant information from different providers and sub-contractors has been accessed and the provider/contractor has recorded the level of concern being assessed;
  • Whatever the level of initial risk, information collated on unmet need/risk has to be in line with the CoNR (Health; Education; Emotional & Behavioural Development; Identity, Family & Environmental factors; and Parenting Capacity) to enable decisions to be made using the BwD Risk Management Toolkit;
  • Information collated by all partners must cover recent service provision, an effective summary of past service provision and any family history the service provider holds. Where the service provider has made referrals to other services (internal to their agency, within their sector, or externally), details of the service provider/key worker etc. should be requested and recorded;
  • Information must be collated in a timely manner;
  • Each partner agency within CADS must have a system to gather information in line with the priority status/risk levels within the team. The information collated needs to be proportionate and allows effective joint decisions on next steps required to protect the child and promote its welfare.

CADS Team Manager (TM):

  • TM to ensure oversight of decision making by AP/SW/DAA and where relevant partners to maintain management in line with statutory expectations;
  • Referrals that remain within the team beyond 24 hours must be reviewed regularly by the TM to ensure tasks are being completed by SW / AP and partner agencies and record made for reasons about any delays;
  • Where all checks have been completed the Team Manager (with partner agreement) will direct next steps and allocate tasks as appropriate.

4. Roles of Partners in CADS

Working Together guidance outlines that within 1 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 CADS 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.

CADS Team Manager

The responsibilities include:

  • The management and support of the Children's Social Care staff within the team (Advanced Social Work Practitioner, Social Worker, Domestic Abuse Advisor) and operational running of the CADS;
  • Decision making in response to contacts into CADS including authorising all referrals that require assessment by a social worker; authorising all cases requiring assessment by the Engage Team;
  • Decision making in response to contacts into CADS 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.

Children's Support Services – Team Manager

The responsibilities include:

  • The management and support of the Children's Advice & Duty Service Support Officers (CADSSO) and supporting the operational running of CADS;
  • Allocation and oversight of work identified as appropriate for early help advice, guidance and intervention by the CADSSOs.

Advanced Social Work Practitioner 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 CADS and at what level of the CoNR Framework; and
  • For referrals that are deemed to require universal, targeted, CAF or Early Help offer, record the decision on Protocol and forward the referral to the Children's Advice and Duty Service Support Officers (CADSSOs).

Children's Advice and Duty Service Support Officer (CADSSOs)

  • Undertake checks for information as required and directed by SW/AP/TM/DAA using available local authority (Housing, Transforming Lives, Community Safety, Education, Early Help) and partner (Revenue, Benefits, YJS) contacts/databases;
  • Assist the SW/AP/TMto 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 Coordinator 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 5 working days of the e-mail;
  • Respond to information requested by NPS or CRC about any children living in households connected with offenders they are managing;
  • Where a CAF, Early Help or Targeted Service response (Level 2 CoNR) is decided by the TM/AP/SW, liaise with the referrer to decide on how the support will be coordinated and how the referral will be made, undertaking CAF assessments as required;
  • Assist to undertake home visits (as deemed necessary); and
  • Access Early Help/CAF information and provide advice/support to referrers.

Domestic Abuse 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 Abuse Advisor will provide advice and guidance to CSC practitioners and where relevant to partners in CADS 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) or criminal exploitation (CCE). The Engage Team Worker will attend CADS daily (part-time) to review referrals to the Engage Team and review any other CADS referral where indicators of CSE and / or CCE are identified/suspected by partners in the team.

The responsibilities include:

  • Complete appropriate enquiry and collating information tasks as required by the CADS SW/AP/TM; and
  • Provide advice, guidance and support to partners within CADS with regard to CSE / CCE.


The overall responsibilities include:

  • Quality assuring PSRs (Police Safeguarding Referrals) 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 CADS referrals that have not been received through the police PVP pathway where it is deemed appropriate by SW/AP/TM to determine appropriate level of intervention.

Detective Sergeant

The responsibilities include:

  • Provide direction and leadership in the processing of safeguarding 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 CADS to ensure safeguarding and investigative tasks are completed expeditiously in accordance with policy and by appropriately skilled staff.

Police Safeguarding Support Officer

The responsibilities include:

  • Safeguarding Support Officers 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 PSRs/CADS referrals and decisions reached in CADS;
  • Liaise with secondary and tertiary health services to share information relating to PSR/CADS 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 CADS Team Manager/Partners; and
  • Support the Police and Children's Social Care identify children for whom limited details are provided by the referrer.

The WISH Centre/BDDWA (Domestic Abuse Service)

The responsibilities include:

  • All PSRs are screened by a Senior IDVA/Manager and allocated to appropriate worker within BDDWA;
  • 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; and
  • Where PSRs are 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 BDDWA worker that has picked up PSRs outside normal working days will check with CADS Police 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.


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 CADS half a day per week. 

Probation (NPS & CRC)

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

The responsibilities include:

  • Provide relevant offender management information (current and past) in respect of all PSR referrals;
  • Share PSR information and outcome of CADS decisions with the Offender Manager if a person named on the PSR is currently open to Probation Services; and
  • Provide relevant offender management information (current and past) in respect of all non-PSR 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 PSRs 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
  • PSRs are screened by CGL and appropriate action taken to offer services.

The Partnerships, Families and Communities Manager is based within CADS 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 CADS 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; and
  • 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 CADS half day on a daily basis. 

5. Resolution of Disagreements in CADS

In undertaking CADS tasks there will from time to time be disagreements with referrers and with partners in the CADS. If the CSC Team Manager in CADS 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 Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP Procedures), Resolving Professional Disagreements (Escalation and Conflict Resolution) Procedure). It is the responsibility of the Team Manager in CADS to record all disagreements with referrers on Protocol. Where partners in the CADS are involved in resolving differences about CADS decisions, all relevant partners will record details on their respective recording systems.

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs