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Initial Contacts and Referrals


This procedure applies where Peterborough City Council’s Children’s Social Care receives a contact or referral about a child who may be a Child in Need, including those who may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm

It should be read in conjunction with Children’s Social Care Transfer Protocol and the Multi Agency Support Groups - Information for Practitioners.


  1. Initial Contacts
  2. Response to a Referral       
  3. Consent to a Referral
  4. Where a Common Assessment Form has been Completed
  5. Timescale for Dealing with a Referral
  6. Outcome of a Referral
  7. Feedback to Referrer
  8. Where a Crime may have been Committed

1. Initial Contacts

An Initial Contact is made where Children's Social Care is contacted about a child, who may be a Child in Need, and where there is a request for general advice, information or a service.

All contacts need to be considered alongside thresholds for Children in Need and/or the CAF criteria.

At any time, an Initial Contact may become a Referral if it appears that services may be required for a Child in Need.

Any significant information received about a child who is an open case should be regarded as an Initial Contact, passed to the child's allocated social worker and recorded on the electronic data base.

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is not a referral form, although it may be used to support a referral or a specialist assessment.

In all other cases, at the point when an Initial Contact is made, the duty worker should establish whether the enquiry can be dealt with by the provision of information and advice or re-direction to other agencies or services.

The duty worker should also check the electronic data base records to see if the child or family is known and, if known, retrieve information on them. Any such information should be passed to the allocated social worker if there is one, and otherwise to the duty social worker.

2. Response to a Referral       

2.1 A referral or contact may be received by phone, letter, fax, e-mail, or personal visit. Any such contact or referrals will be dealt with the Children’s Duty Team at the Contact Centre.
2.2 If the referrer includes a Common Assessment Form with the referral, see Section 3, Where a Common Assessment Form has been Completed.

The Duty Team must check on LiquidLogic whether the case is known to Children’s Social Care:

  • If it is open to a worker in Children’s Social Care, the administrator must forward the information as ‘further information on an open case’ to the worker concerned;
  • If the case has only been closed for a period of 3 months or less, the referral is sent to the team manager of the team who held it previously, for a decision about how to respond and allocation if appropriate;
  • If the case is not known or has been closed for a period of over three months, the administrator will pass the referral to the First Response Team.

Referrers should have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.

The worker dealing with the referral will complete a Contact Record Form for each child referred on LiquidLogic ensuring that as much information as possible is included. A chronology should also be started for each child referred - see Chronologies and Significant Events.

The worker dealing with the referral must clarify:

  • The nature of the concerns;
  • How and why they have arisen?
  • What appears to be the needs of the family?

  • Whether there are any concerns about mal-treatment?
  • If so, what is their foundation?
  • Whether it may be necessary to consider taking urgent action to ensure the child is safe from harm.
2.6 Referrers should be asked specifically if they hold any information about difficulties being experienced by the family/household due to domestic abuse, mental illness, substance misuse, and/or learning difficulties.

3. Consent to a Referral

3.1 The worker dealing with the referral will establish whether the child and his or her family are aware that the referral is being made.
3.2 If the referral does not raise concerns about Significant Harm to the child, professional referrers should have the agreement of the child (if of sufficient age and understanding) and at least one person with Parental Responsibility before making the referral. In these circumstances, where consent has not been obtained, the worker dealing with the referral should ask professional referrers to obtain the family’s agreement before the referral is made.            
3.3 If however by not making the referral the child is likely to be placed at risk of Significant Harm, the referral should be taken.
3.4 In relation to referrals which raise concerns about Significant Harm to the child, professional referrers should have informed the child (if of sufficient age and understanding) or the parents / carers that they will be making the referral unless the act of informing them would place the child at increased risk of Significant Harm or might prejudice a police investigation.
3.5 In these cases, referrals should be accepted and information sought from other agencies as appropriate without consent; however, the issue and timing of information sharing with parents and children should be discussed and agreed during the initial Strategy Discussion/Meeting.
3.6 Where parental consent has been given, it is helpful if professional referrers have also asked the parents for permission for Children’s Social Care to contact other agencies involved with the child(ren). Therefore, referrers should be asked if they have done this and whether such consent has been given should be recorded on the Contact Record.

4. Where a Common Assessment Form has been Completed

4.1 Increasingly practitioners working with children will be completing a Common Assessment under the Common Assessment Framework to help them identify the child’s needs.   
4.2 When practitioners, having completed a Common Assessment, consider that the child is likely to require intervention by Children’s Social Care they will send a copy of the Common Assessment Form at the time of making a referral.       
4.3 When a Common Assessment Form is received, the worker dealing with the referral should complete the Contact Record using the information on the Common Assessment Form. 
4.4 Both the Common Assessment Form and the Contact Record should be passed to the Team Manager for him/ her to decide how Children’s Social Care should respond.   

5. Timescale for Dealing with a Referral

5.1 The decision as to how Children’s Social Care will respond to a referral should ordinarily be made within one working day of the referral being received.

6. Outcome of a Referral

6.1 The worker dealing with the referral will recommend what response should be made to the referral and send the completed Contact Record to the team manager for a decision to be made. 
6.2 Where a Common Assessment Form accompanied the referral, a copy of this should also be passed to the team manager.
6.3 The team manager will either approve the recommendation or return the record for further work to be undertaken before making the decision.

This decision will be based on:

  • The information in the Contact Record (and the Common Assessment Form where received);
  • Any additional information from other agencies where there are concerns about Significant Harm;
  • Where practicable and appropriate, discussion with the referrer;
  • Peterborough Threshold Document for Children in Need;
  • Any previous available information about the child and/or family.

The options are: 

  • Advice and information only to be given;
  • Referral to another service / agency;
  • Referral to Early Intervention and Prevention Services including where appropriate for consideration of a CAF;
  • No Further Action;
  • Progress to Referral - Child and Family (single) Assessment to be undertaken by Children’s Social Care (Referral and Assessment Service).
6.6 If the decision is to undertake an Assessment, the relevant team manager will allocate the case to a social worker for this purpose.

7. Feedback to Referrer

7.1 The worker dealing with the referral will inform the referrer of the decision about the referral and what action will be taken within 48 hours of its receipt.
7.2 If the referral has been received in writing the response should be in writing.

8. Where a Crime may have been Committed

8.1 Where any referral, or new information on an open case, indicates that a crime may have been committed, the case should always be discussed with the Police at the earliest opportunity.