We provide services to children and young people who may be in need or at risk. We deliver our services through social work units which consist of social workers and clinical workers. This means that more than one professional can work with a child, young person or their family at any one time to bring different ideas, skills and knowledge to a particular issue.
The model also means that there is always someone available to talk to about a child who knows the situation.
Access, assessment and family support services
If you are worried about a child you will need to speak with a social worker in our first response team who will take further information from you to help them decide which is the most appropriate service to deal with the issue that you have raised.
If the information you provide leads us to believe that a child may be in need of a statutory social work assessment we will allocate the matter to one of our access and assessment social work units who will look into your concerns fully.
In some cases an immediate response is not required and you may instead be invited to meet with a social worker to discuss any concerns you may have about a child. Our social workers aim to gather as much information as possible so that they can provide the most helpful advice and assistance.
We will always make sure that any particular needs arising from religion, culture or disability are included in the information we gather, so it is helpful if you can tell us as much about these things as possible.
People often worry that we take children away from their families. Our aim is to support children to live safely with their families and we will always try to find ways to make this happen when it is appropriate to do so.
Sometimes we do need to place some children away from their families either temporarily or permanently. If this happens our social workers will work in partnership with parents and make efforts to include parents fully in any plans for their child.
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If there are serious concerns about the welfare of a child, we will do a Section 47 investigation. This may happen jointly with the Police's child abuse investigation team (CAIT). Other professionals involved with any child subject to an investigation will be approached for information and are required to share any information they hold with us.
If an assessment concludes that a child has been neglected or harmed or is likely to be so in the future, we will hold a a child protection conference. You will be invited to attend. Find out more about child protection.
Children in need service
The children in need service works with children, young people and their families when an assessment indicates that our social care services should remain involved for a longer period of time. This includes children who are subject to:
- a child in need plan
- a child protection plan
- public law care proceedings
- private family proceedings
Children in need social work units hold cases until there is evidence of positive and lasting change in a family that means a child can live at home safely and without further need for a social worker from from children's social care to be involved.
Sometimes we may ask a parenting support worker to help a family make some changes, and sometimes they will do the work with the expertise they have available in the social work unit.
If it is not possible to achieve positive change within an agreed period of time it may be necessary for the Social Work Unit to decide if a child needs to come into care and become looked after. Children who become looked after will transfer to the looked after children service once they have a permanent plan to remain in care.
It is seldom in the interests of the child to be looked after by public agencies for all of their childhood. Adoption will be considered if a child remains in care with little chance of returning home safely and especially if the child is 10 or under.