Raise concerns about the welfare of a child

Sometimes you might suspect that a child is at risk of harm or neglect. In other cases, you may know of a family who could benefit from some additional support and help to look after a child better.

Professional workers with concerns

If you are a professional or a volunteer who comes into contact with children as part of your work, you have a statutory duty to safeguard children and report any allegations or concerns about their welfare or safety. Similarly, if you have identified a child or young person who could benefit from a service or needs help and support, you have a responsibility to pass this information on to the relevant agency.

The Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board web site provides more information about your responsibilities and how to report concerns.

Early Help Team

  • Supports agencies in a practical way by providing information on services and interventions in Knowsley and neighbouring boroughs, providing advice and guidance on CAF processes and procedures and facilitating multi-agency meetings.
  • Is the point of contact for cases that do not meet current Children’s Social Care threshold or where an appropriate agency has not been identified which can support the needs of the child and their family.
  • Maintains an overview of which families are being supported by agencies.
  • Provides information advice and guidance to practitioners when considering how to best assess a child’s needs.
  • Supports professionals to embed processes and systems of integrated working in their agencies. 
  • Maintains the development of an accurate and up to date Family Information Service.
  • Supports the effectiveness of and co-ordination of multi agency meetings.
  • Assures the quality of assessments in the Borough (CAF/Family Assessments).
  • Works with commissioners to identify gaps in service. 

Early Help team can be contacted by telephone on 0151 443 4707.

Stronger Families (formerly Family First 11-18) Service.

  • Is one of the key resources delivering interventions to families with complex, interacting needs in line with Knowsley Family Policy, the national Troubled Families agenda  and the Early Help Strategy.
  • The core offer of the service is the co-ordination and delivery of multi-agency interventions, based on whole family assessment and action planning to helping families achieve positive outcomes  for themselves while reducing the likelihood of  escalation to  high cost, statutory, crisis intervention services such as Children’s Social Care.
  • Referrals can be made to the service from any source when outcomes for children are compromised by issues affecting parents and carers such as Domestic Abuse, Substance Misuse, Mental Health, Crime & Anti-Social Behaviour.

Families engaging with the service can expect a wide range of support either delivered directly by Stronger Families or through co-ordinated partnership.

To find out more about the service please call 0151 443 2882 and ask to speak to a team manager.

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

  • Is part of the Knowsley Children and Families Service
  • Operates between 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and can be contacted via email by phone 0151 443 2600.
  • It provides a ‘first point of contact’ for Early Help and Children’s Social Care (CSC) enabling members of the public and professionals to raise concerns about the welfare of Children. This may include Children identified as potentially being in need of support or at risk of suffering abuse. 
  • `MASH has a multi-agency function; some of the agencies represented are Adult Social Care, Children’s Social Care, Health, Anti-social behaviour team, housing and the Police. Agencies work together with the Early Help Team and Children’s Social Care to provide information around cases and help make the best decisions around a child’s welfare and safety.
  • If you contact MASH by telephone you will be asked as series of questions when making a contact/referral to MASH, this is to ensure as much information as possible can be gained to support what level of need is identified and action required by whom. Please see ‘Guidance on taking a quality contact’.
  • There is no pre-requisite to complete a CAF before referring to Children’s Social Care. If a CAF has been completed at the point of contact/referral this should be sent with the MARF or sent separately if the contact is received through a telephone call.

At all other times the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) acts as the ‘first point of contact’. EDT will only respond to Emergencies that cannot wait until the next working day.  This is usually circumstances where there are immediate concerns regarding the welfare of Children or there is a risk of family breakdown and the Childs’ are being placed in ‘care’.

Please note if you believe a child or young person is at immediate risk, you should contact the police urgently, CALL 999 EMERGENCY.

Members of the public with concerns

If you are worried a child may be suffering significant harm, or if you are concerned a child has suffered harm, neglect or abuse, please follow the advice below.

If you believe a child or young person is at immediate risk or harm, you should contact the police by dialing 999.

If you have concerns about a child or young person but believe they are not at immediate risk,

  • Discuss your concerns with a professional you trust such as a health visitor, teacher or GP,
  • Contact the MASH Team on 0151 443 2600 ,
  • Contact Merseyside Police on 101 (24-hour non-emergency number).

When you share your concerns, professionals have a responsibility to act in the interests of the child and are required to complete an assessment of risk to ensure the most appropriate support is given and the child is safeguarded.

The Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The Common Assessment Framework for children and young people (CAF) is a shared assessment tool used across agencies in England. It can help professionals develop a shared understanding of a child’s needs, so they can be met more effectively. It will avoid children and families having to tell and re-tell their story.

The CAF is an important tool for early help. It has been designed specifically to help professionals assess needs at an earlier stage and then work with families, alongside other professionals and agencies, to meet them.

The underlying principles of CAF model are:

  • The child's needs must come first
  • The child's welfare is everyone's responsibility
  • All organisations must work together for the benefit of the child
  • The parents'/carers' rights must be considered and inform the process
  • The CAF should be ‘owned’ and driven by the child and their parents/carers

What does the CAF consist of?

  • a pre-assessment checklist to help decide who would benefit from a common assessment
  • a process to enable practitioners in the children and young people’s workforce to undertake a common assessment and then act on the result
  • a standard form to record the assessment
  • a delivery plan and review form

It is important that staff from all agencies and organisations across the Knowsley Partnership register CAFs with Knowsley’s CAF Team. The Team can then check if a CAF already exists for a child/young person and share Lead Practitioner details.

The CAF model in Knowsley sets out the Common Assessment Framework procedures operating in the borough, gives helpful case studies and sets out useful information on the role of the Lead Professional. For more information or support regarding Knowsley’s model, the process, the CAF document itself or CAF reviews, contact the CAF Team.

Missing children

If you think a child is missing from home or local authority care, you should call Merseyside Police on 101 (24-hour non-emergency number).

If the missing child is the subject of a care order, or is looked after by Knowsley Council, you should also inform the child’s social worker. If it is outside of normal office hours contact the council’s out of hours service on 07659 590 081.

If you are a parent you must inform the police, or where appropriate Children’s Social Care, when your child goes missing. Failure to do so could be considered a child protection issue.

Online abuse

If you are a young person, or a parent who is worried about something which has happened online, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) can help you. CEOP provides help and advice and the option to report any instance of sexual contact or harmful material.

If you are in immediate danger or want urgent help call 999 or call Merseyside Police by dialing 101 (24-hour non-emergency number).

NSPCC helpline

If you are worried about a child’s safety or wellbeing you can also get help, advice and support by calling the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.