Download the Safeguarding Spectrum
Children’s needs are primarily met by their families, their extended family and their support network. Schools, GP’s and health services all meet children’s needs universally, this means that children don’t need a referral into another service for support as their needs can be met through family etc. The child is expected to reach its milestones and fulfil their potential.
When a child needs a little more support or an issue is identified such as a development issue or if the child needs a little more support because there are issues in the family, then sometimes its necessary to get additional help from organisations where a referral has to be made, for example a paediatrician, a speech and language therapist or extra support has to be provided in school.
For churches, this may mean that you put an extra resource into Sunday School, or, where a family have an issue around housing, debt or money issues, or they are struggling to cope with family life, as churches there is a lot we can do to support such as referral to a debt organisation like CAP, however, you would need the support and consent of the family if they want to accept help. Sometimes this might be enough to get the family back on track.
If these issues aren’t addressed there is a risk of poor outcomes, e.g. the child’s delay, if not addressed, may not attain academically or perhaps a health issue will result in the condition getting worse. There is need to move to extra support to address and meet the need
Specialist Child in Need
This is when a child or young person’s needs are much more complex and more support is needed. The indicators would typically be like the issues below:
- Short term exclusions or at risk of permanent exclusion, persistent absence from school or perhaps the child has an EHCP plan. They may have a disability requiring special support to be maintained in mainstream setting.
- Their physical and emotional development could be raising significant concerns among professionals. Chronic /recurring health problems, such as their parents’ fail to seek medical treatment and they persistently miss appointments – routine and non-routine. Underage pregnancy, evidence of regular, frequent drug use. There maybe mental health issues requiring specialist intervention.
- There may be a history of domestic violence and abuse; either between parents / carers or child / young person’s own relationship. Risk of relationship breakdown between parents/ carers and the child. Acrimonious contact arrangements following parental separation. Children who are privately fostered, children with parents in prison, children who have had periods as a Looked After Child. Child with attachment issues. Children with caring responsibilities which are inappropriate and interfere directly with their education / leisure activities.
- The family may be living in severe overcrowding, temporary accommodation or homelessness and the family require support as a result of social exclusion.
- The physical care or supervision of the child is inadequate or parents have a physical and/or learning disability which impacts on their capacity to meet the needs of their child. The parents do not engage with professionals. Perhaps there has been a history of allegations of periodic neglect, including insufficient supervision, poor hygiene, clothing or nutrition. It may be that young carers are caring for their parents and undertaking intimate personal care, meaning they are in roles that are beyond their age or stage of maturity.
- Inconsistent parenting impairing emotional or behavioural development. Parents have substance misuse problems (drugs or alcohol) or mental health problems which impacts on their capacity to meet the needs of the child. Parents provide inconsistent boundaries or responses. Carer uses physical chastisement or other harsh methods of discipline. Parent or carer is indifferent to smoking, underage drinking, drug misuse and early sexual relationships of their child.
The child or young person is unlikely to meet their outcomes unless the situation changes and things improve in the child’s life and home situation.
Services will be involved with the family and support will be going into the family to help improve the situation.
In the three areas above, Universal, Targeted & Specialist Child in Need you need the families’ consent for any intervention or any sharing of information between organisations.
Specialist Child Protection
This is were a child or young person is at risk of or has experienced significant harm. The Local Authority has a duty to make inquiries and investigate the circumstances around this. It’s at this stage, if a child discloses abuse or an organisation is extremely concerned about the safety of a child or young person, consent from the family is not required to report to children’s social care to the police.
This is what we call “statutory threshold” for reporting concerns and passing on information.