The Referral Process

The local authority (Children’s Social Care) must take all reports (or Referrals) seriously.

The following summarises the procedures that will be followed.


Stage 1 - Initial Assessment

If a referral is made, it will usually be dealt with within 24 hours, having collected some key information about the concern or allegation - if it appears that the concern or allegation is founded - a Social Worker in Children's Services will be asked to start an assessment, which could take up to 10 days but may be completed very quickly (e.g. if it appears that a Child is seriously at risk). If there are serious risks to a Child, it may be necessary to take immediate action to protect the child(ren) concerned, in the extreme, this can result in children being temporarily cared for by a Foster Carer.

All Referrals will be considered by a Social Worker in Children's Services, and an assessment may be conducted.

It may be necessary to take immediate action to protect you or the child(ren) involved, in the extreme, this can result in children being temporarily cared for by a Foster Carer. If this happens to you and your brothers and sisters, you'll usually be cared for by the same foster carers.

Next Stage

Stage 2 – Strategy Discussion

If it looks like abuse has happened or might happen, the social workers and others, like teachers or the Police, will hold a meeting called a Strategy Discussion to decide whether a Child Protection Enquiry is necessary (see the next stage).

Next Stage

Stage 3 – Child Protection Enquiry

If a Child Protection Enquiry is started, this will involve a Social Worker and the Police assessing the concerns or allegations, the Child(ren) and Parents will be involved in this process.

Next Stage

Stage 4: Initial Child Protection Conference

At the end of the Child Protection Enquiry, an Initial Child Protection Conference will be conducted, chaired by an Independent Manager. You might be invited to this meeting.

You have rights too...

If you are unhappy about any aspect of the meeting, you should talk to the chair of the meeting to discuss your views. If you feel you haven't been properly informed or involved, seek advice from a Solicitor, Citizens Advice Bureau or you can make a complaint. Ask your social worker or chair to explain the complaint process (see Complaints Procedure).