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1.3.3 Child Protection Section 47 Enquiries

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter should be read in conjunction with the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Single Assessment Procedure

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Multi-Agency Procedure for Professionals Requesting Child Protection Medicals Pathway

AMENDMENT

This chapter was revised in September 2014, when Section 5, Dispute Resolution was added and provides guidance for processionals on what they should do if they disagree with the local authority decision not to proceed to a Child Protection Conference.


Contents

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1. Conducting Section 47 Enquiries
  1.1 Seeing and Interviewing the Child
  1.2 Seeing the Parent
2. Recording Section 47 Enquiries / Single Assessments
3. Updating an Assessment
4. Outcomes of a Section 47 Enquiry
  4.1 Concerns not Substantiated
  4.2 Concerns of Significant Harm are Substantiated and the Child is Judged to be Suffering, or likely to Suffer, Significant Harm
5. Dispute Resolution


1. Conducting Section 47 Enquiries

Where a Strategy Discussion/Meeting concludes that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, a Section 47 Enquiry and Single Assessment is required. A Child Protection Strategy Discussion Form should also be completed.

The Single Assessment is the means by which a Section 47 Enquiry is carried out. The objective of the Section 47 Enquiry is to determine whether action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. The decision to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry will be taken by the team manager and where such a decision is made the Single Assessment must be completed within 45 working days from the date of the referral to Children’s Social Care.

Where a Section 47 Enquiry is being conducted as part of the Single Assessment and the parents or child withdraw their cooperation or move away, the Single Assessment cannot be considered to have been completed unless the team manager is satisfied that arrangements are in place to safeguard the child concerned. The response may include:

The social worker, when conducting a Section 47 Enquiry, must assess the potential needs and safety of any other child in the household of the child in question. In addition, Section 47 Enquiries may be required concerning any children in other households with whom any alleged abuser may have contact.

In determining who should be involved in a Section 47 Enquiry, consideration should include with whom the family is most likely to cooperate, and whether there are any risks. In all cases where there is a known propensity to violence within the family household, consideration should be given to the strategy to be adopted, with Police advice/assistance if appropriate, about how to reduce the risks before any visits take place.

1.1 Seeing and Interviewing the Child

The child must always be seen alone in the course of a Section 47 Enquiry, unless it is contrary to their interests to do so. The Strategy Discussion/Meeting will plan any interview with the child. Children should always be seen and spoken to alone by the Lead Social Worker. Records of the Section 47 Enquiry and any reports to Child Protection Conferences should include the date(s) when the child was seen alone by the Lead Social Worker and, if not seen alone, who was present and the reasons for their presence.

The social worker leading the Section 47 Enquiry must have specialist training and experience in interviewing children.

All discussions with the child should be conducted in a way that minimises any distress caused to them, and maximises the likelihood that s/he will provide accurate and complete information. Leading or suggestive questions to the child should always be avoided and the Achieving Best Evidence guidance must be followed.

Before a child is seen or interviewed parental permission must be gained unless there are exceptional circumstances that demonstrate that it would not be in the child’s interests and to do so may jeopardise the child's safety and welfare.

Relevant exceptional circumstances would include:

  • The possibility that a child would be threatened or otherwise coerced into silence;
  • A strong likelihood that important evidence would be destroyed; or
  • That the child in question did not wish the parent to be involved at that stage, and is competent to take that decision.

In such circumstances, the social worker must take legal advice about how to proceed and whether legal action may be required, for example through an application for an Emergency Protection Order or a Child Assessment Order.

1.2 Seeing the Parent

In the majority of cases it will be appropriate to involve the parents/carers from the outset. The powers, duties and roles of the agencies involved should be explained, as should the parents’ own legal rights. The social worker should answer questions openly and honestly.

The social worker should discuss any allegation with the parent and note the explanation/s given. The parent should be given the opportunity to refute or disprove any allegation.


2. Recording Section 47 Enquiries / Single Assessments

The social worker should record the Single Assessment on a Single Assessment Record.

The completed Single Assessment should be signed by the social worker and passed to the team manager for approval and agreement. The team manager should record their decision on the recommendations and sign the record to approve it as of a satisfactory standard. The date of the team manager signing the record is the date of the completion of the Single Assessment and should be recorded as such. The child (depending on age and understanding) and parent should be given a copy of the record.

Where a Section 47 Enquiry is conducted alongside the Single Assessment, the social worker should record their actions/information gathered during the course of the enquiry and its outcomes on a Record of Section 47 Enquiries. The record should be signed by the social worker and team manager.


3. Updating an Assessment

Once the decision has been made to progress a case to an Initial Child Protection Conference (CPC) the social worker should complete a Single Assessment and the child's plan and present that as the social worker's report. Where the case is new to Children's Social Care the social worker will need to create and complete a new assessment; however where there is ongoing involvement and previous assessment activity, the social worker should update the current assessment for the Initial CPC and any subsequent Review Conference. This requires the worker to create on Azeus a new assessment entitled 'updated assessment' and copy and amend the information from the relevant previous assessment.

A similar process should be undertaken when attending the first and subsequent Looked After Reviews. There will also be occasions as part of ongoing casework that will require the updating of the Single Assessment and workers should follow the process outlined above for creating an 'updated assessment'.


4. Outcomes of a Section 47 Enquiry

The outcome of a Section 47 Enquiry must be endorsed by the team manager.

A Section 47 Enquiry may conclude that concerns were unsubstantiated, concerns were substantiated but the child is not judged to be at continuing risk of Significant Harm, or the concerns are substantiated and the child is judged to be at continuing risk of Significant Harm.

4.1 Concerns not Substantiated

Social workers with their managers should:

  • Discuss the case with the child, parents and other professionals;
  • Determine whether support from any services may be helpful and help secure it; and
  • Consider whether the child's health and development should be re-assessed regularly against specific objectives and decide who has responsibility for doing this.

All involved professionals should:

  • Participate in further discussions as necessary;
  • Contribute to the development of a Child in Need Plan;
  • Provide services as specified in the Child in Need Plan for the child; and
  • Review the impact of services delivered as agreed in the Child in Need Plan.

Outcomes may be:

4.1.1 No Further Action

Enquiries have revealed that there are no causes for concern. The child may be a Child in Need but the family do not wish for services to be provided, in which case the case will be closed;

4.1.2 Family Support to be Provided

Enquiries have revealed that there are no causes for concern but that there are needs that could be met by the short term provision of services under section 17 of the Children Act 1989. The family are willing for a short-term package of support to be provided, or continue to be provided;

The social worker/team manager should convene a Child in Need Planning Meeting within 7 working days to agree a Child in Need Plan - see Child in Need Plans and Reviews Procedure.

All involved professionals should:

  • Participate in further discussions as necessary;
  • Contribute to the development of any plan as appropriate;
  • Provide services as specified in the plan for the child; and
  • Review the impact of services delivered as agreed in the plan.

4.2 Concerns of Significant Harm are Substantiated and the Child is Judged to be Suffering, or likely to Suffer, Significant Harm

N.B. Where immediate protective action is required, the advice of Legal Services should be sought.

Social workers with their managers should:

  • Social workers with their managers should convene an Initial Child Protection Conference. The timing of the conference should depend on the urgency of the case and respond to the needs of the child and the nature and severity of the harm they may be facing, but it must be held within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting where the decision to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry was made. The request to convene the conference must be supported by a team manager. For the detailed procedure, see the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance;
  • Consider whether any professionals with specialist knowledge should be invited to participate;
  • Ensure that the child and their parents understand the purpose of the conference and who will attend; and
  • Help prepare the child if they are attending or making representations through a third party to the conference. Give information about advocacy agencies and explain that the family may bring an advocate, friend or supporter.

Consideration should be given by the date of the Initial Child Protection Conference where one is convened to whether the Single Assessment has been completed or what further work is required before it is completed. A Single Assessment is deemed completed once the assessment has been discussed with the child and family and viewed and authorised by the team manager.

All involved professionals should:

  • Contribute to the information their agency provides ahead of the conference, setting out the nature of the agency's involvement with the child and family;
  • Consider, in conjunction with the Police and the appointed conference Chair, whether the report can and should be shared with the parents and if so when; and
  • Attend the conference and take part in decision making when invited.

For the detailed procedure in relation to Child Protection Conferences, see the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance.


5. Dispute Resolution

If the local authority decides not to proceed with a Child Protection Conference, then other professionals involved with the child and family have the right to request that a conference be convened, if they have serious concerns that a child's welfare may not be adequately safeguarded.

End