Reporting a concern for practitioners

If you are a Practitioner who works with children, young people and families (paid or un-paid) and are concerned about a child: 

  • Discuss your concerns in the first instance with your Safeguarding Lead or line manager if you are unsure if they are suffering significant harm
  • Inform the parents and / or gain their consent for you to make this contact unless doing so would put the child at risk.

Gather the following initial information prior to making your call:

  • All the details known to you/your agency about the child
  • The family composition including siblings, and where possible extended family members and anyone important in the child’s life
  • The nature of the concern and how immediate it is
  • Details of any work/support that you have provided to the child or family to date.
  • Details of where the child is
  • Whether you have informed parents/carers of your concern. Please be aware that consent from the parent/carer will be required to make a referral unless this places the child at any further risk.

What is significant harm?

‘Harm’ means ill-treatment or the impairment of health or development, including for example impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another;
Section 31(9) of the Children Act 1989, as amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

Child abuse is categorised in the following ways, these are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive:

  • Sexual Abuse

Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.

  • Neglect

The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.

  • Emotional Abuse

The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.

  • Physical Abuse

Any non-accidental injury to a child and can include hitting, biting, burning, throwing and shaking or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

For more detailed definitions see Working Together 2018.

What should I consider before making contact with Duty and Advice Team?

  • Consider discussing concerns with the family and the child or young person first.
  • Who is already working with the family? Is it appropriate to discuss your concerns with them?
  • Have you gathered initial information about the child or young person, what your concerns are and where the child or young person is currently?
  • What has triggered you to make the contact now?

What will happen when I make a contact?

All child protection contacts are taken very seriously and your concerns will be properly considered by a qualified Social Worker.

You may be contacted for further information as part of the initial enquiries. In most cases there will be a discussion with the parents and the child as appropriate.

Sometimes it becomes clear at a very early stage that concerns are not founded.

If initial enquiries do reveal significant concerns about the child or young person’s welfare, then the formal child protection enquiry procedures will begin immediately.

Will I have to give my name?

All practitioners must give their name and the agency they work for.

If you are a member of the public and you feel very strongly that you cannot give your name, you need not do so – your concerns for a child or young person will still be considered.  Your name and address will be kept confidential if you request it.

Will I be kept informed of progress?

Because of the highly confidential nature of this work, you will not be given detailed information about the outcome of an enquiry. However, you may be contacted for further information.

Duty and Advice contact numbers

  • During office hours (9.00am – 5.00pm) call the Duty & Advice Team on 0113 376 0336 (select option 4 to speak to a Social Worker)
  • Out of office hours (evenings, weekends and bank holidays) call the Children’s Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 0113 5350600.
  • If you think a child is immediate danger call the police on 999 out of office hours (evenings, weekends and bank holidays).

If the child or young person is not at risk of being significantly harmed practitioners should consider an Early Help response.

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