In January 2024 we staged a number of briefing sessions to ensure that staff are up to speed with the changes that Working Together 2023 will make. More information about the partnership working briefings is available here.
During these briefing sessions we received a number of questions from staff. These questions and the answers to them are set out below.
If there is due to be consultation with DCC over the coming year, what guidance is being followed in the interim? Are DCC following WT23 or continuing with the old guidance?
- WT23 replaces WT18 so following the WT23 guidance is immediate. Where there needs to be consultation due to changes, this will take place throughout the year between all partners.
Why does ‘Working Together’ pause, when a case is in Family Court?
- We are not aware of this. There is no mention of this in the Working Together guidance.
Where do families go when they consent to an Early Help referral but CSC and other partners refuse to do an Early Help Assessment because of capacity?
- CSC wouldn’t complete an Early Help assessment as Early Help is not a service within Devon County Council. We would not be aware if other partners refused to complete an Early Help assessment because we only know about those Early Help assessments that have gone into MASH at Level 3 or via Triage through the Early Help Locality.
If we are still to use the Level of Needs tool, are the training courses still available? I have been told that they have had to stop the delivery of these courses because of ongoing changes to the tool and to how MASH is responding to requests for support?
- We had to discontinue the Level of Need Workshops in September 2023 due to imminent changes to the MASH process and protocols, Early Help and prospective changes to the Levels of Need tool. We hope to re-start these sessions after April.
Re the Professional Consultation line, is there ever a situation when a professional can and should still call the MASH line (the public number)? I want to clarify what a practitioner should do when they want to share clear safeguarding concerns. We have had some confused feedback from staff about what they’ve been told when calling the PC line.
- The Professional Consultation line is to be used by practitioners if they are not sure what to do – or if their concern meets the Levels of Need/threshold. If practitioners are not in any doubt about what they need to do, they can call the MASH phone line.
Is there any work happening to fill the gap/process where Early Help is assigned, but families don’t engage, and then its closed down, but then safeguarding opportunities are potentially being missed?
- The work that is happening is the vision of a Restorative Devon. By being restorative and relational, we can endeavour to develop strong and trusting relationships which will help make sure that families will engage with us. If families don’t consent, or consent or don’t engage, it is the practitioner’s responsibility to record this carefully and ensure that a clear chronology is kept in case the matter needs to be escalated at a later date.
District Councils as key partners in Devon?
- Yes, page 106 WT23: ‘local authorities and district councils that provide children’s and other types of services, including children’s and adult social care, public health, housing, sport, culture and leisure services, licensing authorities and youth services’.
Do the partners include Children’s Centres?
- Yes, absolutely – they come under ‘Voluntary, charity, social enterprise, faith-based organisations, and private sectors’……..’Many of these organisations and agencies as well as many schools, children’s centres, early years, and childcare organisations, will be subject to charity law and regulated either by the Charity Commission and/or other “principal” regulators’. Page 128/129 WT23
Isn’t ‘Rights for Children’ the one system to use for all agencies ?
- “Right for Children” is the software used by any practitioner (whatever organisation or agency) that is used for families where there has been an Early Help assessment made. It is only used for Early Help.
Is ‘Rights for Children’ still used after step up to CIN/CP?
- The information is kept on the system but also recorded on our Children’s Social Care Eclipse system.
You mention education but what about early years – will there be a representative for these?
- There are Early Years representatives on several of the Partnership’s groups including the Education and Advisory Group and they consult with their clients and service users. We have strong links with the Devon County Council Early Years and Childcare Service who represent all the early years providers, including childminders, across Devon.
Can we please ensure the DevonSCP newsletter goes ahead and that the news page is updated with any changes in a timely fashion so we can disseminate it to the groups we work with? The training bulletin is useful for the VSCE as it has everything in one place, thank you for that.
- Yes, the schedule for our newsletters is quarterly with the next one being around 1st February.
The Early Help Assessment Portal is not user friendly a very frustrating portal to use.
- The Right for Children software is under review.
Please confirm the number for the Professional Consultation Line.
- We are unable to put that number on this document as it would be shared on our website, where there is public access.
Any news on what the “new” devolved authority may do with Safeguarding?
- Being a devolved authority will make no difference to Local Authorities responsibilities around safeguarding and what’s required of them (as in WTG 2023).
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