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1.2.5 Children's Services Contact Team

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This chapter was extensively revised and updated in December 2014 and should be re-read.


  1. Main Purpose and Function
  2. Making Referrals to CSCT
  3. Processing Contacts Through to Requests for Services
  4. Referrals and Assessments of Children in Specific Circumstances

    Appendix 1: Factsheet for Parents

    Appendix 2: Factsheet for Professionals

1. Main Purpose and Function

We have established a new Children’s Services Contact Team (CSCT) to make it as easy as possible for residents and professionals to gain access to support or safeguarding services for children and young people. This will be the single point of contact for requests for services for vulnerable children and young people in the borough.

The Children’s Services Contact Team includes representatives from Children’s Social Care, Families First, Children’s Centres and Targeted Youth Support.

The benefits of a single point of access

  • Vulnerable children and their families receive the services they need, when they need them and where they can best access them;
  • We get involved early to support vulnerable families and nip problems in the bud: helping them to build resilience so that emerging problems do not become more serious;
  • Service providers (Schools, Children’s Centres, Health services, Families First, Children’s Social Care, Targeted Youth Support, the voluntary sector, and Housing and Adult Services) work together to make sure families receive the services they most need when they need them most.

2. Making Referrals to CSCT

Professionals contacting CSCT to ask for family support or safeguarding services should carry out an early help assessment using the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) to get a complete picture of a child or young person’s additional needs. It is strengths-based and addresses all unmet needs, not just those in which individual services specialise. It can be used by anyone who works with the child or young person.

The early help assessment / CAF benefits children and young people who don't have to go through the time consuming and potentially distressing process of telling their story over and over again to different people. The CAF ensures that all required information is provided at the start, rather than going back and forth with the CSCT to enable an accurate assessment to be made.

Referrers need to obtain the consent of the family for the information contained within the early help assessment / CAF to be shared with other practitioners. Once you have completed the early help assessment, you will be better placed to understand whether a multi-agency intervention is required to meet the child or young person’s additional needs.

Eligibility Criteria for referring to CSCT

Professionals can make a request for support if an early help assessment / CAF indicates that a child or young person aged under 18 years has additional needs and requires a multi-agency intervention.

The concerns may be in relation to the behaviour or circumstances of adults in the family or the child itself and may include: persistent absence, violence, antisocial behaviour or offending, chronic health problems, or ongoing behavioural problems that are putting the child, young person or others at risk.

Service User Consent

Before sharing information to request a service, you should obtain the consent of the child and parent(s) unless doing so would put them at risk of serious harm.

If you are worried that a child is at risk of significant harm, e.g. through abuse or neglect, you must make a request for a safeguarding service and should not delay contacting CSCT.

How do I request a service?

Requests for a service are made by completing an early help assessment using the SECURE E CAF system and sending to CSCTREFERRALS@ISLINGTON.GOV.UK unless there is an urgent and immediate concern that a child is at risk of significant harm.[1]

You can telephone 020 7527 7400 for advice between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Outside of these hours, contact the Emergency Duty Team for urgent matters on 020 7527 0992.

[1] Please note that GPs and Accident and Emergency staff are not required to use the e-CAF system.

What happens next?

The Children’s Services Contact Team includes representatives from Children’s Social Care, Families First, Children’s Centres and Targeted Youth Support. The team will check which service(s) the child/family has received or is currently receiving and the professionals involved. This helps to prevent duplication of service, ensures that professionals who know the family are informed and promotes an improved service from the team around the family.

The team can also check whether the family qualify for the borough's Stronger Families programme, which ensures the appropriate support, challenge and co-ordination is in place to make lasting positive changes for families affected by multiple problems including offending/anti-social behaviour, educational issues and worklessness.

How long will this take?

The Children’s Services Contact Team will make a decision about which service is best placed to respond to your request within 24 hours where a child appears to be in need of protection and otherwise within 72 hours. You will be notified of the decision once this has happened.

Incomplete information within the Common Assessment, and, or lack of consent will delay access to services, and unless there is a child protection matter, the referrer will be required to obtain full information and or consent before the referral can be progressed.

Information sharing within the Children’s Services Contact Team

Apart from basic information, e.g. date of birth or services provided, information is not shared within the Children’s Services Contact Team without consent. Information will be stored securely and is held according to the Council’s Data Protection Policy.

Information sharing within the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

The Children’s Services Contact Team also contains a MASH. The MASH in Islington includes Children’s Social Care, Community Health, Education, Early Years, Police, Adult Mental Health, Probation, and Targeted Youth Support.

When a referral is received which raises safeguarding concerns, but the level of need or risk is unclear, the referral will be subject to a MASH check. This enables multi agency information to be shared to avoid children falling through the net of services by building a full picture of risk to assist early decision making. The aim is to identify vulnerable children earlier and more efficiently through better information sharing and to enable agencies to act quickly to keep children safe.

The MASH is a confidential environment where information is only shared between designated MASH professionals within a specified timeframe. Once the level of need and risk is clarified, the child will be matched to the most appropriate type of service, through the normal Children’s Services Contact Team processes.

MASH checks can only be carried out where there is consent or serious safeguarding concerns that indicate that seeking consent would prejudice the child’s welfare.

3. Processing Contacts Through to Requests for Services

Senior Social Workers within CSCT are responsible for authorising the decisions on all Contacts and can take 4 possible actions:

  1. No Further Action (NFA);
  2. Conduct work under 'Provision of Information and Advice' (PI+A);
  3. Refer matter to Children in Need (CIN) team for allocation to undertake an assessment;
  4. Refer the matter to Early Help Services (where the threshold is not met for social care and targeted services can best meet the child or young person’s additional needs).

Working Together to Safeguard Children requires this decision to be made within one working day.

Requests for CIN Services Regarding "Open" Cases

Requests for CIN Services Regarding "Open" Cases

Where an enquiry relates to a child who already has an allocated worker, the senior administrator must forward it immediately to the Social Workers, Deputy Team Managers and Team Manager electronically and telephone the named worker or a manager to alert them. An e-mail is also sent which confirms these actions.

Contacts Requiring Allocation within CIN Teams

If a child needs an assessment the Contact will be progressed to a Referral. The rationale for doing so is recorded by the CSCT senior Social Worker in the Contact Record and the Referral Record is then assigned on ICS to the Team Manager of the responsible area team (Barnsbury, Canonbury, Finsbury, Highbury, Holloway or Hornsey). An email is sent to the management group of the CIN Team and alerts them to the Referral Record. Discussions between the CSCT and the CIN teams are regular and if the matter requires action on the same day the Referral will be followed up with a verbal discussion.

The receiving CIN TM (or designated DTM) will then complete the allocation process by ticking the type of assessment, i.e. Child and Family Assessment, Sec.7 report, Sec.47 on the Referral Record, along with the reason for decisions. Following this, the CIN Team Manager assigns the assessment to a social worker within their team and writes to the referrer advising them of the name and contact details of the allocated Social Worker and line manager. Any contact that has immediate safeguarding concerns will be subject to processes under the ‘Making and Receiving a Referral section of the London Child protection Procedures’ this will be progressed immediately to the appropriate CIN Team.

If subsequent information (including the receipt of the eCAF) is received after the Contact has been progressed to Referral, CSCT staff must record this as a Case Note, upload the eCAF and activate the allocated Social Worker and line managers alerts on ICS through to the appropriate CIN Team for allocation.

Contacts which do not Require Assessment within a CIN Team

Work undertaken which does not require assessment within a CIN Team will be progressed from a Contact to either, Targeted services, No Further Action or to Provision of Information and Advice.

Provision of Information and Advice tasks are assigned by the Duty Manager to a SSW, or Senior Administrator.

If work is assigned as Provision of Information and Advice a CSCT SSW, or Senior Administrator should complete the tasks within seven working days wherever possible to avoid a build up of case-related work and to ensure that work undertaken within CSCT can be reviewed within appropriate timescales by the Team Manager, Deputy Team Manager or Deputy Admin Manager.

If contacts are assessed as requiring service provision through the offer of Early Help Services, these are signposted onto the CSCT duty worker for Targeted Support who will process the request. This may result in immediate signposting to a specific service or it may require a discussion at a Targeted Allocation Meeting in order to determine which service may be best able to assist.

The ICS work trays of all SSWs and Senior Administrators are reviewed weekly by a manager within CSCT in addition to being reviewed in three-weekly supervision. Where tasks take longer than one week to complete this is agreed by a manager.

Senior Administrators are assigned responses to requests from professionals for information. Responses are authorised by the Deputy Admin Manager except where the children to whom the information request pertains have been Looked After or have been subject to Child Protection Plans.

Where service users themselves want access to historical CSC Records (Subject Access Requests) they are directed to the Customer Care and Complaints Manager, except for access to adoption files which is referred to the Adoption Team. Subject Access Requests for open referrals are handled by the allocated team.

Recording Outcomes

CSCT Outcomes Summary

Outcome When this Outcome May be Realised
Referral Referral Where the threshold has been met for a statutory social work assessment *.
Provision of Information + Advice Where it is clear that CSC is not the appropriate agency and a service is not required but information or brief advice from CSC needs to be given to the referrer, possibly to encourage the commencement of a CAF/TAC.
Provision of Information & Advice Where an CSCT worker needs to obtain further information to clarify whether or not the threshold for a Referral is met and thus whether a service is required from CIN Team*.
Provision of Information and Advice Where a response is being given by a Senior Administrator to a request for information.
Refer to Targeted Services Where the view is taken that the case does not meet social care threshold but does require support from other early help services.
No Further Action Where the necessary work with a family and/or response to a referrer can be undertaken on Duty within one working day of the notification being received.
No Further Action Where it is clear that no action of any kind is required from CSC.

*Where a referrer needs CSCT support to determine the levels of need with which a child or young person is presenting, which services might best be engaged and/or whether a meeting to identify a Lead Professional within a universal or targeted service is required, the Pan-London CAF Protocol should be used. See Islington Councils website on Integrated Working.

The CSCT Team manager / deputy team manager / SSW will consider the following in order to determine the progression of contacts:

  • Examine the information provided by the referrer;
  • Review any history on ICS under all family members;
  • Determine whether a paper file needs to be requested;
  • Consider whether further information is required from the referrer and / or other agencies (where applicable to Information Sharing Principles and the confidentiality rights of families, i.e. Section 17 or Section 47);
  • Consider required services using the Pan-London CAF Protocol;
  • Follow statutory legislation and guidance including Children Acts 1989 and 2004, Working Together to Safeguard Children and London Child Protection Procedures and any other relevant internal divisional memos or protocols.

Exceptional Circumstances

  • In circumstances where the CIN Team Manager and CSCT Duty Manager are unable to agree a case transfer, CIN Operational Managers are responsible for deciding an appropriate resolution which enables services to be efficiently provided to children and families;
  • It is not the role for the CSCT SSWs to undertake s.47 Strategy Discussions, s.47 investigations or Single Assessments that should otherwise be allocated within the CIN Teams. It is important for the effective progression of contacts through CSCT that the team is not overburdened with tasks and roles that are outside their remit. However, in certain circumstances such as where there is capacity to do so and it is expedient for the case an CSCT SSW could be assigned by the Duty Manager to undertake an Assessment. Also, in circumstances where the threshold for an assessment is not met (based on the information provided in the Contact) but good practice dictates that further research is conducted to expand on what is known, the CSCT Duty Manager may authorise CSCT SSWs to undertake pre-assessment checks and consultation to determine whether there is further information which will change the decision not to progress the matter to Referral stage;
  • In situations of increased demand for services which results in a CIN team reaching its capacity for new referrals, the CIN Team Manager will advise the CIN Operations Manager who will consider the following exceptional options:
    • Whether the CIN team can improve capacity by progressing to closure existing open cases;
    • Whether other CIN teams can take extra referrals outside their area;
    • Whether the CSCT Service has capacity to undertake s.47 Strategy Discussions and Single Assessments;
    • Whether other qualified social workers from Children's Social Care teams are able to undertake assessments (the area CIN Team Manager would remain as the case manager until the assessment was completed).

Children with Severe and Complex Needs

If children are referred to Islington Children's Social Care and they have been assessed as having 'severe and complex needs' arising from disability then Contacts are passed to the Disabled Children's Team and the Duty Manager within that team follows the processes outlined in this document. Where children require social work assessments they will also conduct these.

4. Social Care Referrals and Assessments of Children in Specific Circumstances

Missing from Home Children

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Statutory Guidance on Children who Run away and go Missing from Home or Care and also the London Child Protection Procedures supplementary guidance Safeguarding Children Missing from Care and Home.

(Local Procedure being updated - Please seek advice from the CSCT Manager.)

Privately Fostered Children

See Private Fostering Procedure.

Where at the point of Referral a child is known to be or suspected to be living in a private fostering arrangement the outcome of the Referral will be either Assessment or 'Private Fostering Assessment' depending on how clear it is that the arrangement is PF. The case will be allocated to the Specialist Social Worker Private Fostering who will be responsible for the assessment. Following the completion of the assessment(s) if the child is privately fostered the child will automatically be a 'child in need' and will be allocated to the appropriate CIN Team within the area the child resides. The SSW PF will continue to be available for support/consultation:

  1. SSW PF will have responsibility for notifying DFCS of privately fostered children;
  2. Where a child already allocated within the CIN Service becomes privately fostered the SSW PF will not conduct the PF assessment for reasons of continuity of social worker but will provide support and consultation ensuring that the assessment covers all relevant areas;
  3. Where a child is at the point of Referral identified as a trafficked child the outcome of the Referral will be Assessment (and S47 enquiries). The case will be allocated within the CIN Team covering the area in which the child is living or found. The Assessment and Child Protection Inquiry will be conducted by the SSW PF who for the duration of the Assessment will be the allocated social worker. Management responsibility for the Assessment and safeguarding issues during the Assessment will lie with the Team Manager of the CIN Team. Following the completion of the Assessment and the Home Office's 'Trafficking Toolkit' assessment (also conducted by SSW PF in parallel with the Assessment) the child will automatically be at least a 'child in need' if not Looked After and will remain allocated in a CIN/CLA Team with SSW PF handing case responsibility over to a social worker in that team and continuing to be available for support/consultation;
  4. SSW PF will have responsibility for notifying UK Human Trafficking Centre of privately fostered children;
  5. Where a child already allocated within the CIN Service is found to have been trafficked the SSW PF will not conduct the s.47 Inquiry, Assessment and 'Trafficking Toolkit' assessment for reasons of continuity of social worker but will provide support and consultation ensuring that the assessments cover all relevant areas.

16 and 17 Year Olds Who are Homeless

Please see Protocol with Housing.


Appendix 1: Factsheet for Parents.

Appendix 2: Factsheet for Professionals.