Safeguarding Bristol’s Children
In September, Bristol Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) issued new guidance around making referrals to First Response that all childcare and school settings should have received.
First Response is the front door to children’s services in Bristol and on average they receive 2,000 referrals a month. You contact them if you have a safeguarding or child protection concern about a child or young person. Every referral is triaged by one of the qualified social workers in the team, to assess priority and allocate accordingly. This means each Deputy Manager could be analysing up to 30 referrals every day – more on some Monday mornings. To help First Response decide what action is necessary, the referral needs to contain as much information that is known about the child and their family, as well as details of any other agencies that might be already involved. If the child or family are not already known to Children’s Services, the information you provide could be the only information they have on which to base an initial decision.
Any decision is based on the BSCB Threshold Guidance. Using this, First Response will decide if it will be referred to the Early Help Team or a Social Work Unit for further assessment or that no further action will be taken.
First Response will focus on the voice of the child and the evidence of what impact the concerns raised are having on the child’s safety, welfare and life experiences.
First Response have to make a decision about what service is appropriate very quickly – they need detailed, accurate information to do this.
To support organisations in ensuring they are able to make good quality accurate referrals, BSCB has produced a powerpoint presentation and a practioner booklet which could be used in a team meeting or as a yearly update. The practioner booklet contains a completed referral form designed to highlight some of the issues with poorly completed forms and is a great tool to develop your understanding of what is needed to make a strong referral.
Another important message is the need for groups to see themselves as part of the Early Help offer. First Response will want to know what you have already done to support the child and family and who you have signposted them to.
As part of BAND’s ‘Action in Practice’ training course for Designated Safeguarding Leads, participants get the chance to start putting together a list of local agencies that can provide support and guidance on a range of topics like domestic abuse, FGM and on-line safety:
It can be hard to know what and who is out there able to provide support, but BAND is always able to give advice and information to groups. You can also contact BAND if you just want to talk something through to see what the best course of action is.
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