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5.1.22 Emergency Duty Team

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter was added in December 2012.


Contents

  1. Who Are We?
  2. Team Structure
  3. What We Do
  4. What is an Emergency?
  5. What Happens When You Call Us
  6. How You Can Contact Us
  7. Services Available
  8. Young People and Families
  9. Foster Carers
  10. Emergency Foster Care Placements
  11. Appropriate Adult Service
  12. Police Powers of Protection
  13. Emergency Duty Team Process, How Does it Work?
  14. Enquiries under Section 47 Children Act 1989
  15. Parental Participation/Consent
  16. Outcomes
  17. Housing Issues for People/Children who Pose a Risk to Children


1. Who Are We?

Lincolnshire Children’s Services Emergency Duty Team is a small team of Social Workers based at Witham House, Waterside South, Lincoln.

We are open when local daytime offices have closed, including:

  • Nights;
  • Weekends;
  • Public holidays.

We work shifts to ensure that the service is available at all times. This means that often there will be only one or two Social Workers covering the entire County. We are therefore only able to respond to Emergency situations which cannot wait until the next working day.


2. Team Structure

EDT Manager: Donna Pauling

Advanced Social Work Practitioners:

Pippa Brooks, Bonnie Gaylor, Rachel Freeman and Caroline Beckett.

We are also supported by a small team of trained Customer Services Advisors.


3. What We Do

Our aim is:

Provide an effective, high quality emergency social care service, responding to children and families in crisis and meeting their urgent needs outside of normal office hours. Our primary task is to respond to new situations that arise after area offices close. These should be urgent, needing a response that cannot wait until offices re-open

During emergencies, we provide advice and support to:

  • Children and their families/carers;
  • Children who are experiencing mental health problems;
  • Children who have been detained by Police.

We work closely with other services to include: Police, Health and Housing.


4. What is an Emergency?

An emergency is something that cannot safely wait until the next working day.


5. What Happens When You Call Us

Your call will be answered by a trained customer service advisor. They will take your details and discuss the reason for your call with you to find out how urgent it is. If necessary they will pass your details onto a social worker from the Emergency Duty Team. Alternatively they may signpost you to other agencies or refer your situation to one of the daytime social care teams for follow on the next working day.

Children in high risk situations will always receive a priority service.


6. How You Can Contact Us

Please note: We are only available to deal with Social Work emergencies which happen when local daytime offices have closed.

We are open:

  • Monday to Thursday - from 5pm to 8.45am the following morning;
  • From 4.45pm on Friday through to 8.45am the following Monday morning;
  • All day (24 hours) on Bank Holidays.

Our telephone number is: 01522 782333.


7. Services Available

Our work focuses on:

  • Children in need of protection;
  • Children with mental health problems who may be at risk to themselves or others;
  • Working with the police to help Adults at Risk and young people who offend;
  • Families in emergency/crisis situations.


8. Young People and Families

We are a contact point for children and young people at risk of immediate family breakdown.

Our aim is to prevent children from going into public care wherever possible and we assist families in finding new ways of dealing with difficult situations.

We offer emergency telephone support and advice to carers and families dealing with crisis and emergency situations.

We are often able to signpost families/other agencies towards other help available.


9. Foster Carers

We are able to provide telephone support to foster carers experiencing difficulties with children in their care. We are able to offer advice on coping strategies and managing difficult behaviour. Our aim is to prevent placement breakdown and to support foster carers to manage difficulties until the next working day. EDT does not have access to mainstream foster placements and therefore are unable to deal with placement breakdowns. Foster carers are advised to contact the child’s social worker during normal office hours if they feel that the placement is at risk of breaking down.


10. Emergency Foster Care Placements

EDT has limited access to foster care placements. The placements available must be retained for absolute emergencies. Quite often there will only be one or two placements available within the County. Daytime Teams should provide EDT with contingency plans and identified placement details if they require EDT support in respect of placements at risk of breakdown.

Children can only be placed in Foster Care with the agreement of Children’s Head of Service. Agreement will only be given in exceptional circumstances, when there is a serious and immediate risk of significant harm to the child and where no alternative family or friends are available to care for them. Placing children in Foster Care causes significant disruption to a child’s life and is only used as an absolute last resort. Every attempt will be made to secure alternative accommodation prior to considering this as an option.


11. "Appropriate Adult" Service

EDT offer an "Appropriate Adult" service to children held at police stations until 10.30pm.

TAAS will attend (if required- subject to police requesting) to assist the child if they have been arrested and detained, pending interview.

The 'appropriate adult' service is part of The Appropriate Adult Scheme (TAAS).


12. Police Powers of Protection

Section 46 of the Children Act 1989 empowers a police officer who has reasonable cause to believe that a child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm, to:

  1. Remove the child to suitable accommodation and keep him/her there; or
  2. Take such steps as are reasonable to ensure that the child’s removal from any hospital, or other place, in which he/she is being accommodated is prevented.

EDT will only seek the assistance of the police to use their 'powers of protection' in exceptional circumstances and where there are significant concerns relating to the child's immediate safety.

When Police Powers of Protection are used, an independent officer of at least Inspector rank must act as the designated officer. The powers of protection can last up to 72 hours.

Police have a duty to notify the Local Authority if they have used their powers of protection and must clearly detail, that the criteria for risk of significant harm has been met.

Under PPoP the Local Authority and/or Police do not obtain PR for the child, however, in an Emergency; the Local Authority can accommodate children under Police Protection without parental consent.

The Local Authority can return children home whom are in Police Protection or can refuse to accommodate the child after conducting their own assessment. (See Section 10, Emergency Foster Care Placements).


13. Emergency Duty Team Process, How Does it Work?

Initial Referral - Screening

On receipt of any referral in which concerns are expressed about the immediate safety or welfare of a child, the EDT Social Worker must determine whether the threshold for Section 47 Enquiries applies, that is, whether "There is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm".

This will always be the case where:

  • The allegation/concern relates to a physical injury to a child, and particularly to a young child under the age of 5 years;
  • The child or young person has made an allegation of possible sexual assault, by someone who is, or may be, in direct contact with them;
  • The child has a Child Protection Plan, or there are recent Child Protection enquiries logged onto MOSAIC;
  • The child or young person is in the care of adults who are known to be currently involved in violence, drug or alcohol misuse, or where there are mental health problems - i.e. there is no safe or protective adult known to be caring for the child.

Given the out of hour's nature of the service, there will often be a lack of clarity or information about the nature and severity of risk. The EDT Social Worker will therefore need to make, and record, a considered judgement. These initial enquiries will provide sufficient information upon which to determine, whether there is a need for emergency action to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child/children.

Where a decision is made not to proceed under this Section, this should be recorded, together with the reasons, and the referrer should be advised as soon as possible, having due regard to issues of confidentiality where the referrer is a member of the public.

Where the Social Worker determines that further enquiries and/or investigation is necessary, this should also be recorded and undertaken without delay.

Where the allegation or concern(s) relates to a foster carer or member of staff, or where there is any suggestion that the referral may involve organised abuse, the EDT Social Worker should immediately consult with their manager or ‘on call’ Head of Service.


14. Enquiries under Section 47 Children Act 1989

Enquiries should be made via the police, PPU where possible, the GP or other health representative(s), and any other agency known to have contact with the child. The Child Protection Plan and MOSAIC should always be checked.

The outcome of these checks should be recorded, together with the Social Workers’ decision about whether Section 47 continues to apply, or whether there is evidence that the child is safe and no immediate action is necessary.

Where further Section 47 Enquiries are to be pursued, following the initial checks above, the EDT Social Worker will hold a strategy discussion with the duty officer from PPU and the on call community paediatrician.

The Strategy Discussion should determine what immediate action needs to be taken both to clarify the referral information, and to promote and safeguard the child's welfare. In particular, the following should be noted:

  • All children who are subject to child protection referrals must be seen by a responsible professional as a matter of urgency. The strategy group will need to determine the level of urgency, and whether the child is to be seen that day, or the next working day. Clear hand over arrangements should be agreed for the latter;
  • Where the allegation/concern relates to a suspected or actual physical injury to a child, this will always include consideration of the need for a medical assessment. Where the need for a medical is agreed, the timing, where it is to be carried out and by whom, should be agreed in consultation with the on call paediatrician, and at the earliest opportunity, the parent and child concerned informed.

The EDT Social Worker will consult with PPU, Healthcare Services and other specialist agencies in the following circumstances:

  • Where a decision is taken not to see a child within 24 hours of referral. Such a decision should be based upon an initial assessment that the child is not at immediate risk, and should be agreed by all parties involved in the strategy discussion;
  • Where a decision is made not to medically assess a child within 24 hours of an allegation of physical assault/abuse. As above, this should be subject to an assessment of the case, and in agreement with the on call community paediatrician;
  • In exceptional circumstances where the strategy discussion agrees that the child needs to be seen as a matter of urgency, and the EDT Social Worker is unable to visit, and another agency, such as the police, offers to undertake this on EDT's behalf, The EDT manager will agree to this course of action subject to there being: a clear remit about the issues to be assessed/discussed during the visit; arrangements for feedback to EDT and other strategy group members following the visit, and joint decision making about what action is then to be taken.

Where a visit is to be undertaken by the EDT Social Worker, due regard should be paid to issues of personal safety, and joint visiting with the police or other colleagues should always be considered, where there is any suggestion of violence, or where the family are unknown to Services.

On conclusion of the investigation, the EDT Social Worker, in consultation with the Strategy group, will take whatever action is necessary to ensure the child's immediate safety, pending a fuller assessment of risk by the Daytime area team(s).

EDT will provide a record of the strategy discussion, section 47 enquiries carried out, action taken and outcomes, including case notes/contacts. This will be sent to the relevant team manager in daytime services and other agencies involved in the strategy discussion via email.


15. Parental Participation/Consent

It is good practice to consult parents/carers at the earliest opportunity in any referral, and to seek their agreement and permission before sharing information about them with other agencies. However EDT Social Workers are not often able to exercise this, due to the perceived risks. "This should only be done where such discussion and agreement seeking will not place a child at increased risk of Significant Harm". Working Together to Safeguard Children, (HMSO 2010).

The Emergency Services will rarely be in possession of sufficient information, or have sufficient time, to assess whether seeking parental consent will increase the risk to the child referred, prior to carrying out initial enquiries into the child's circumstances.

EDT Social Workers should therefore proceed as above, but should remain aware of the parent's rights to be informed at the earliest opportunity of agency concerns, and of agency involvement in discussing the appropriate response to these concerns. The strategy group should agree how and when the parent is to be consulted, and this should be clearly recorded.


16. Outcomes

All referrals considered under this procedure must be passed to the appropriate area daytime team on the next working day, regardless of the outcome or level of intervention.

It will then be the responsibility of the locality office to follow up the referral and to ensure that they are clear about who has been consulted, and exactly what action has been taken, with what results.

The information provided to daytime services must specifically state whether the parent/carer is aware of the referral, and what information has been shared with them, and this should be recorded, together with the reasons why any information has been withheld.

Where any investigation, assessments, ongoing casework or placement breakdowns are likely to present to EDT, it is the responsibility of the locality office to ensure that EDT have up to date information about risk to the child(ren), on which to base any emergency action which may then be required out of hours. This should include a detailed contingency plan with appropriate contacts and valid telephone numbers.


17. Housing Issues for People/Children who Pose a Risk to Children

Housing authorities have agreed that people/children will not be offered emergency accommodation in B&B or hostel accommodation where the authority has also housed families or other vulnerable young people.

EDT Social Workers who are approached to provide emergency accommodation for such individuals should therefore consult housing lists for identified single person accommodation in the first instance.

End