Multi-Agency Referral of a Child in Need to Social Services

Waltham Forest has adopted the London Child Protection Procedures - Thresholds for Referral to Children's Social Care. All partner agencies with safeguarding responsibilities at Waltham Forest have also developed a multi-agency tool - the Early Help and Threshold Criteria for Intervention document to aid decision making and professional judgements in identifying the level of need of a child. Partner agencies at Waltham Forest use the four staged model of intervention as a way of identifying need: universal, vulnerable, complex and acute, to provide the foundation for effective integrated locality working. Staged intervention is a process which enables services to plan to meet the needs of individual children and young people. This process assists in clearly setting out what support is available and when it should be offered. It also allows for earlier intervention by changing the way services are provided, using our integrated process to ensure we have effective ways of identifying children and families at increased risk.

Before referring a child to children's social care under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, professionals who work with children and families should ensure that a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) has been completed and Team Around Child support plan has been developed and progressed (with a lead professional identified, where appropriate), and that a referral has been made to the appropriate specialist services. A Section 17 referral to LA children's social care should be made if these initial attempts to improve the situation have been unsuccessful, accompanied by evidence of the actions taken to date by the referring agency/ professional.

The Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF) is a tool to assist professionals with providing relevant information about a child to children's services to aid speedy and efficient decision making under the child in need (under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989) and a child in need of protection (under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989) provision of the Children Act 1989.

The MARF also requires the referring agency/ professional to record whether a parent or young person's consent has been obtained to a referral being made. Urgent referrals should always be made by telephone to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, and immediately followed up by this form (which may be emailed or faxed).

Stepping Up and Stepping Down Process: Children and young people whose needs are more complex in range, depth or significance and cannot be met by the Team Around the Child and Family process at Level 2, or if significant progress has not been made against expected outcomes in the Common Assessment Framework, can and should stepped up. Alternatively, significant progress has been made through working with Specialist services and so the child/young person no longer needs to remain at Level 4 and can be 'Stepped Down' to Level 3 or maybe even Level 2 services (see Step Down to Early Help Form). For example, the child/young person can 'Step Down' into Level 3, if the family have complex needs and require multi agency support that can be met via services under the Common Assessment Framework (See also section 3c Complex Needs of Early Help and Threshold Criteria for Intervention Document).