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First response service

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First Response Service

The First Response Service operates from Riverside House and provide the 'front door' to CYPS. The First Response Service includes the following teams which work together to manage the various incoming requests for services:

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, or 'MASH', receives all new contacts about children, young people and their families. Contacts relate to vulnerable children who may benefit from early help services as well as children in need of social work support, protection and care.

Contact is received from a wide range of professionals from other statutory agencies, voluntary services, family members, members of the public and children and young people themselves. In the first instance MASH administrative officers receive, record and log all new contacts for consideration by social workers and other multi-agency professionals.

Where contacts concern children and families who do not require a social work service but may benefit from help to prevent concerns escalating or becoming more entrenched the MASH administrators, with the oversight of a social work manager, refer contacts straight to Early Help Services.

Where there is an indication that a child may be in need of support require the MASH refers onto the Duty & Assessment Team so that they can contact the child and his/her parents to undertake an assessment.

Where there is an indication that a child may have suffered, or be at risk of suffering, significant harm and is in need of protection or care, the MASH social workers work with co-located multi-agency professionals to screen all new safeguarding contacts and make informed decisions about what steps to take to safeguard and protect.

Decisions are taken within strict timescales based on professional judgements about the nature and level of the presenting concerns plus analysis of any existing data and intelligence held by each agency represented in the MASH. MASH practitioners are guided in their decision making by the agreed Local Safeguarding Children's Board thresholds guidance and safeguarding procedures. If further action is required the MASH will convert the contact into a referral and pass it onto the Duty & Assessment to follow up.

In recognition of the prevalence of domestic abuse and the high volume of Police notifications that the MASH receives about this a daily Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Meeting has been created to provide a fast track screening and response service to ensure adult victims, who are usually but not exclusively women, and their children receive a prompt response to build safety plans and deal with alleged perpetrators in a considered and coordinated manner. The Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Meeting also deals with domestic abuse in peer relationships between young people and other family based domestic abuse situations.

The Missing Team has recently become integrated within the MASH and provides an initial screening service for any child or young person that goes missing from home, care and education. Return Home Interview Officers meet with children and young people when they have returned from being missing to ensure that there is a prompt and accurate assessment of the 'push – pull' factors to address the identified risks and build safety.

The MASH is an innovative way of strengthening local safeguarding practice to enable local safeguarding partners to share information and work together. By doing so the MASH ensures that operational teams have the fullest picture possible when they make contact with children and families to follow up on safeguarding concerns.

The original MASH concept originates from Devon and was cited as a model of best practice during The Munro Review of Child Protection (2011). Rotherham CYPS has had a MASH since 2015 and has recently been subject to a positive independent review undertaken by Nigel Boulton, nib Consulting Limited, former architect of the original Devon MASH.

Although many local authorities now have a MASH and have developed the concept to fit the local circumstances there are five core elements which include:

  • All notifications relating to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to go through the hub
  • A co-located team of professionals from core agencies*delivering an integrated service with the aim to research, interpret and determine what is proportionate and relevant to share
  • The hub is fire walled, keeping MASH activity confidential and separate from operational activity and providing a confidential record system of activity to support this
  • An agreed process for analysing and assessing risk, based on the fullest information picture and dissemination of a suitable information product to the most appropriate agency for necessary action
  • A process to identify victims and emerging harm through research and analysis

Duty & Assessment Teams (x4)

Working to a cycle of one week in every four, each of the four teams takes responsibility to be the Duty Team to assess all new incoming referrals passed to them by the MASH. All Duty & Assessment Teams work within strict assessment timescales to ensure that children and families received a prompt response.

Duty & Assessment social workers are skilled and experienced at undertaking assessments of children's developmental needs, parenting capacity and environmental / family circumstances. Single assessments, or pre-birth assessments if there are concerns about unborn babies, are completed in a timely fashion according to strict statutory timescales, and include a number of key considerations as follows:

  • Seeing and communicating with the child/ren to check on their safety and wellbeing and ascertain their views, wishes and feelings
  • Undertaking home visits to interview parents about referral concerns and issues, explore the family and child's background, observe the child/ren in their parent's care and check on the suitability of the home environment
  • Liaising with other professionals who know the child/ren and their family and working together with other professionals to complete joint enquiries and assessments
  • Undertaking an analysis of available information, and any gaps, to confirm if the child is a child 'in need' requiring support, protection or care and if so establish the changes and outcomes that are required and the service plans for how this will be achieved

Depending on the outcome of the assessment, children may require a continuing social work service. In Rotherham, children in need of support and protection are transferred to an appropriate Locality Team following a Child in Need Network Meeting or an Initial Child Protection Conference. Children who have become looked after are transferred to a Child in Care Team at the first Statutory Review of Arrangements.

Out of Hours Team

The OOH Team provides an emergency child and families social work service during evenings, weekends and on bank holidays when day time services are not available. The OOH practitioners are skilled, experienced and resourceful social workers who provide a 'life and limb' service until matters can be passed onto appropriate day time services. The OOH Team work closely with emergency services including the Police, Ambulance Services, Accident & Emergency Hospital Services, Crisis Mental Health Services, Emergency Housing Services and the Fire Service.

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