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4.12 Step Up / Step Down Procedure

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter describes the process for:

The ‘step-up’ of families from Early Help, Level 3 family support services (Family First 0-18 Service) to Children’s Social Care.

The ‘step-down’ of families from Child in Need support to Early Help Level 3 family support services (Family First 0-18 Service) and partners providing Level 2 family support (such as Schools and Health) from Children’s Social Care.

This protocol does not imply step down from Child Protection interventions to Early Help Services.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) Procedure

Knowsley MASH (Multi-Agency Referral Form)

Early Help Assessment Framework in Knowsley Procedure

Multi-Agency Child Protection Standards Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in December 2016 to provide more comprehensive information in Section 2, Cases Stepping Down from Children's Social Care Child in Need Support to Early Help Services at Levels 2 and 3 in respect of including contact details for families that would still benefit from further support.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Cases Stepping Down from Children's Social Care Child in Need Support to Early Help Services at Levels 2 and 3
  3. Child has some Outstanding Needs and would Benefit from a Step Down to an Early Help Service at Level 2 or 3 for Ongoing Support and Early Help Assessment as Required
  4. Cases 'Stepping-Up' from Family First 0-18 (or other Multi-Agency Assessment) to Children's Social Care on a Planned Basis
  5. Incidents or Events that Lead to a CSC Contact or Referral for a Child/Family already Receiving Support from Early Help Services in an Unplanned Manner
  6. Performance
  7. Adherence to Process
  8. Glossary of Terms

    Appendix A: Step Up Process

    Appendix B: Step Down Process


1. Introduction

The interface between Early Help services and Children’s Social Care (CSC) is an essential component of a robust service for children and families. Whilst Early Help and Children’s Social Care systems and practice can be individually sound, it is the pathways between the two models which are key to ensuring all children are safe when moving between services providing for differing levels of need.

These two elements of support for families need to clearly understand decision making about the pathways between different levels of support based upon need. Pathways between the two must be simple, with roles and responsibilities, and lines of accountability explicit, with clear management oversight.

This protocol details what is required of staff within Children’s Social Care and Early Help services at the levels indicated above. It includes services across the whole of the Children and Families Department, and all partners who may be involved in Early Help Assessment and Team Around the Family (TAF) processes. It covers the threshold continuum from additional needs being identified to the specialist interventions of Children in Need/ Child Protection.

Decision making within this protocol should always be child and family focussed with the child’s needs remaining paramount.

Safeguarding procedures would always override anything within this chapter. If a child is believed to be at risk, nothing within this protocol should be used to delay seeking help, support, guidance or services for a child or family. Any immediate safeguarding concerns should be communicated to the Duty Social Work Team in the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) Procedure.

The protocol details the processes and systems relating to:

  • Cases which step up from Family First 0-18 Service to Children’s Social Care in either a planned or unplanned manner;
  • Cases which step down from Children’s Social Care to Family First 0-18 and partners proving Early Help support at Level 2 (e.g. schools).


2. Cases Stepping Down from Children's Social Care Child in Need Support to Early Help Services at Levels 2 and 3

When a case is open to CSC and the level of need reduces to the point that Social Work intervention is no longer necessary, it may be the case that continued professional input is required to meet other ongoing needs. If this is the case it may that, with the families’ prior  agreement that the Social Worker will seek to ‘step-down’ to Early Help services in a co-ordinated manner. If so the Social Worker should liaise with the appropriate Early Help  service as described below.

For cases identified as requiring Level 2 support:

At least 5 working days prior to the potential final Child in Need (CIN) meeting, the social worker should contact the Level 2 service which has been identified, through CIN and associated processes, as suitable and willing to accept responsibility for the child/family as ‘step-down’ from CSC. In doing so the Social Worker should also inform the Early Help Team (by email EHT@knowsley.gcsx.gov.uk) of the intention to step-down to a Level 2 Early Help service. If required, the  Early Help Team can assist the Social Worker in identifying a suitable Level 2 Early Help service to step down to.

In addition The EH Team can assist the receiving service with adopting the role of Lead Professional; clarifying outstanding needs for all family members and identifying which other agencies and interventions might provide support.

Where the lead professional has been identified and agreed in advance they will attend the final CIN meeting.

During the process of step down it may become apparent that support from Early Help services  is not necessary and that the family can step down directly to universal services. This will ultimately be the decision of the Social Worker and their manager but the Early Help Team can assist with sign-posting the Social Worker to appropriate Level 1 services if required. If it is agreed that the family need continued support  and they will  step down to Family First 0-18, at Level 3 the Social Worker should, with a minimum of 5 days notice, email the Family First 0- 18 duty email (family first 0-18.duty@knowsley.gov.uk) to inform them of the details of the upcoming Child in Need CIN meeting which either a newly appointed case manager or other service representative should attend (given reasonable notice as described above).

If the decision is that step-down to either level 2 or 3 is agreed at the CIN meeting then the family, Social Worker and new Lead Professional should discuss possible next steps as described above and identify any indicators of risk or ‘bottom lines’, in respect of maintaining improvement and change, which would lead to the case being stepped back up to CSC in future.

If for any reason the family is not present at the CIN meeting but step-down is agreed, the Social Worker (if they haven’t done so in advance) should ensure that consent for this has been gained from the family and that any relevant documentation such as Single Assessments and /closing summaries are available to the new Lead Professional/Agency within 10 days of step-down.

The minutes of the final CIN meeting can become the interim Early Help Assessment (pending completion of a new EH Assessment (see Early Help Assessment Framework in Knowsley Procedure) on the EH Module by the new Lead Professional.

The final CIN meeting should agree the appropriate time scale for the first TAF review meeting, (6 weeks unless earlier is agreed) and the final CIN meeting and any other relevant documentation such as single assessments documentation will need to be received within 10 working days of step-down as described above; this will ensure a seamless transition and an appropriate package of support continues for the family.

N.B. If there is disagreement between CSC and the EH service receiving responsibility for the family  concerning  the plan to step down, which cannot be resolved by managers then the case should be escalated to respective Heads of Service/Senior Managers.


3. Child has some Outstanding Needs and would Benefit from a Step Down to an Early Help Service at Level 2 or 3 for Ongoing Support and Early Help Assessment as Required

If the decision is that step-down is appropriate then the family, the Social Worker and new Lead Professional should discuss possible next steps as described above and identify any indicators of risk or ‘bottom lines’, in respect of maintaining improvement and change, which would lead to the case being stepped back up to CSC in future.

If for any reason the family is not present at the CIN meeting but step-down is agreed, the Social Worker (if they haven’t done so in advance) should ensure that consent for this has been gained from the family and that any relevant documentation such as Single Assessments and /closing summaries are available to the new Lead Professional/Agency within 10 days of step-down.

The minutes of the final CIN meeting can become the interim Early Help Assessment (pending completion of a new EH Assessment (see Early Help Assessment Framework in Knowsley Procedure) on the EH Module by the new Lead Professional.

The final CIN meeting should agree the appropriate time scale for the first TAF review meeting, (6 weeks unless earlier is agreed) and the final CIN meeting documentation will need to be received within 10 working days of step-down as described above; this will ensure a seamless transition and an appropriate package of support continues for the family.

N.B. If there is disagreement between CSC and EH Team about the plan to step down, which cannot be resolved by managers then the case should be escalated to respective Heads of Service/Senior Managers.


4. Cases 'Stepping-Up' from Family First 0-18 (or other Multi-Agency Assessment) to Children's Social Care on a Planned Basis

N. B. This policy does not override any safeguarding policies and all professionals working with children who suspect that a child is or has been at risk should follow their own agency safeguarding procedure and take immediate action. Any immediate safeguarding concerns should be communicated to the Duty Social Work Team in the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) Procedure.

Where a family is being supported by Family First 0-18 and there is concern from the Lead Professional, or the multi-agency team supporting the family, that needs are increasing, and there is or may be a risk of harm or Neglect, the Lead Professional should discuss this with their team manager and, if it is agreed that such a risk exists, contact the MASH and request CSC attendance at a step up TAF review meeting, clearly stating the evidence to support a possible step-up on a Knowsley MASH (Multi-Agency Referral Form).

The MASH CSC Duty Manager will review the information supplied and, if of the view that the family may need support from CSC, for reasons other than concerns of immediate harm, will pass on the request for attendance at a step up meeting to the relevant locality CSC Team Manager, who will nominate a duty officer/social worker to attend the next TAF meeting. At least 5 days notice of this meeting should be given to CSC.

At the step up TAF meeting the Lead Professional, multi-agency colleagues, family and Social Worker will carefully review all the available evidence against the Knowsley threshold document and the attending social worker will be responsible for making the decision as to whether the case should step up to CSC or  remain with Family First 0-18.

The outcome of the meeting, and the rationale for the decision, should be clearly and accurately recorded in the minutes/notes of the meeting. If it is agreed that the case should step-up to CSC, the attending Social Worker will inform their Team Manager within 24 hours (or immediately if required) who will in turn inform CSC MASH Duty team that the case is to proceed to the appropriate level of assessment and intervention with reference to the recent ‘Step-Up’ meeting.

The Lead Professional is responsible for providing relevant documentation which will normally include an up to date Early Help Assessment and case summary.

If the case is allocated for a Single Assessment the involvement of Family First 0-18 will not cease immediately but any Early Help Assessment will be suspended whilst the Single Assessment is undertaken. Any pre-arranged TAF meeting within the first 20 days of the ‘step-up’ may go ahead provided the social worker undertaking the Single Assessment is available to attend and the meeting can become part of the assessment process. Any meeting arranged to take place after this 20 day check point should be kept as it will either continue to be held as a TAF meeting if the Single Assessment does not lead to CSC intervention; or may become the initial Child In Need meeting.

In either case the support from Family First 0-18 will continue as planned until the Single Assessment is complete, provided this does not hinder or compromise the CSC assessment/investigation process. The Social Worker undertaking the assessment must notify the Family First 0-18 case manager if any planned intervention should be postponed. If the Single Assessment confirms that needs have escalated and risks cannot be managed by Family First 0-18 then the case will remain with CSC and the case will then close to Family First 0-18.

If, following a step up TAF meeting, the decision is that the case can remain at Level 3 and professionals working with the child/family remain concerned as to the decision, they should use their own agency and Knowsley LSCB’s Multi Agency Escalation Policy.

Where a family continues to be supported by Family First 0-18 but there are additional unmet needs which must show signs of improvement within a short and defined period (4-6 weeks unless otherwise agreed), then the Social Worker should be explicit, for the benefit of the family, in stating that these concerns may lead to a step-up to CSC in the near future. This should be recorded in the minutes of the TAF step-up meeting.


5. Incidents or Events that Lead to a CSC Contact or Referral for a Child/Family already Receiving Support from Early Help Services in an Unplanned Manner

From time to time MASH will receive referrals for children/families with Early Help support. If there is no need for any CSC involvement the contact will be recorded and linked the existing Early Help Episode on. Depending on the nature of the incident that led to the contact/referral this may indicate that the Lead Professional should call a review meeting to ascertain if the child/family requires more support.

If the referral/contact warrants CSC involvement, then a Single Assessment, or process of investigation, would commence without the need for a planned step up meeting as this would only lead to delay for the family. The social worker allocated would be expected to contact the Lead Professional and make full use of any current assessments and knowledge of the child/family held at by the Family First 0-18 Service. As above, Family First 0-18 intervention will continue during the assessment process though any ongoing Early Help Assessments should be suspended. If the case is to stay with CSC beyond the period of assessment, then it will close to Family First 0-18.


6. Performance

The step-up/down process should be monitored in line with performance management frameworks for both Early Help Services and CSC.

The number of cases stepped down to Level 3 support will be monitored by Family First 0-18.

The number of cases stepped down to Level 2 support will be monitored by the Early Help Team.

The number of cases stepping up to CSC from Level 3 in either a planned or unplanned manner will be monitored by Family First 0-18.

The number of cases stepping up to CSC from level 2 in an unplanned manner will be monitored by CSC.


7. Adherence to Process

Step-down

For step-downs to Level 2 services the Early Help Team will monitor adherence to process and, in the first instance, the Early Help Assessment Manager will address any departure from these standards with the relevant CSC team manager.

For step-downs to Family First 0-18, Area Team Managers will monitor adherence to process and, in the first instance, address any departure from these standards with the relevant CSC Team Managers.

In either case persistent issues will be brought to the attention of the Senior Manager for Family Support who will liaise and /or escalate with the CSC Head of Service for Safeguarding as required.

Step-up

For planned or unplanned ‘step-ups’ from Family First 0-18 CSC Team Managers will monitor adherence to process and, in the first instance, address any departure from these standards with the relevant Family First 0-18 Area Team Manager.

Persistent issues will be brought to the attention of the CSC Head of Service for Safeguarding who will liaise and /or escalate with the Senior Manager for Family Support as required.


8. Glossary of Terms

CIN Child in Need
CSC Children’s Social Care
EHT Early Help Team
EHM Early Help Module (IT case recording system)
FF 0-18 Family First 0-18 Service
MARF Multi-Agency Referral Form
MASH Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
SA Single Assessment
TAF Team Around the Family


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix A: Step Up Process

Click here to view Appendix B: Step Down Process

End