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1.2.2 Guidance for the Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This guidance supports practitioners who are making a referral to Rotherham MASH (Children’s Social Care Services) in relation to a child who requires additional support or who is at risk of significant harm.

Click here to access the online Multi-Agency Referral Form.

Please Note:

If you believe that a child or young person may be at imminent risk of significant harm, you should contact:

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which can be contacted between
8.30 am – 5.00pm, Monday – Thursday & 8.30 - 4.30pm Friday on 01709 336 080.

Outside of these hours, concerns can be referred to the MASH by phoning the Out of Hours Children’s Social Care Team on the same number - 01709 336 080.

If the concern about the child relates to possible criminal activity:

Call South Yorkshire Police on 999 if it is an ongoing crime or emergency; or 101 in all other cases.

If the contact or referral is about a child who already has social worker involvement, then please contact the social worker directly. If you don’t know who the social worker is, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

If you have a concern about a child and family that leads you to think that there are additional needs that would benefit from support, it is a good idea to speak to the family about the benefits of the Early Help Assessment. For more information see Early Help website and Early Help Guidance: Integrated Working With Children, Young People and Families With Vulnerable or Complex Needs.

Before you complete the online form, please read this guidance and read or review the following chapters:

Click here to access the online form on the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board website.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was extensively updated in December 2016 and should be read throughout.


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Before you Complete the MARF
3. Demographic Information Required for the MARF
4. Information about Agency Involvement
5. Risk to Professionals
6. Risk and Need Assessment using the Strengthening Families Framework
7. Early Help
8. Referrer’s Details
9. Contact with MASH
10. Consent


1. Introduction

The online Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF) is used to make a referral to Rotherham Children’s Social Care (CSC) in relation to a child or to confirm in writing a referral already made by telephone. The completed online MARF ensures that the MASH has enough relevant information about the child or young person, and the concerns which have prompted your referral, to be able to undertake an evaluation to determine what action should be undertaken.

Within Rotherham, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is the principal point of contact for welfare concerns relating to children.

For more information about the referral process see Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.

All referrals will be considered on the basis of the information provided. Not all referrals will result in an assessment or service being provided by Children's Social Care Services.

For more information see Multi-Agency Threshold Descriptors. You should therefore continue to provide existing universal or targeted services whilst awaiting the outcome decision of your referral. A practitioner making a referral to MASH should be informed of the outcome and the reasons for any decisions made within one working day by telephone and in writing. Both the MASH worker and the referrer should record the outcome of any discussion and agreement about any ongoing action required by the referrer.

It is important that you read all of this guidance before you complete a MARF for the first time. It may also be beneficial to refresh your memory if you need to before you complete any subsequent MARFs. The guidance outlines what information about the child and their family you will need to complete the MARF.

Consent from the parents / carers is not necessary if the child is at risk of Significant Harm but it is good practice to inform the parent/carer/child that you are making the referral, unless doing so would put the child at additional risk of harm. Not being able to inform the parents when the child is at risk of significant harm should not delay the referral being made. See Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure, Talking to Parents/Caregivers.

If it appears that your concern is not one which indicates a risk significant harm is present, but may require the provision of other services, including an Early Help or Child in Need Assessment, then you must seek the consent of the parents for assessment by Children's Social Care Services to proceed. For more information see Section 10 Consent. See also Early Help website and Early Help Guidance: Integrated Working With Children, Young People and Families With Vulnerable or Complex Needs

You are encouraged to contact the MASH (“When in doubt, check it out!”) for discussion or consultation if you are unsure whether your concerns may meet the threshold for significant harm for the child. You can contact the MASH to speak about a case “hypothetically” if you need to


2. Before you Complete the MARF

The following documents should be accessed and read before you start to complete a MARF.

2.1 Access to services - Multi-Agency Threshold Guidance and Descriptors

See Continuum of Needs (Threshold Descriptors)

This document is intended to assist practitioners within the Rotherham multi-agency workforce to identify the appropriate and proportionate responses to needs and issues that they encounter within the children, young people and families they are working with. Please think about the concerns you have about the child and relate them to the level of concerns within the descriptor document.

2.2 Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families

When you are completing the online MARF, please use the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families Procedure to consider the needs of the child and family.


3. Demographic Information Required for the MARF

Before you start the form, make sure you have access to as much information about the child and their family as possible. However, it is acknowledged that some times the information is limited because of the nature of the relationship you have with the child or family, e.g. a detached youth worker may not have more details than a name and approximate age and area. A balance needs to be made between the necessity to have as much information as possible, and the urgency of the risk of significant harm to the child.

Subject child

The following information is asked for the subject child. The information needed to complete the form is as follows:

Details about the Subject Child/Unborn child:

  • Surname and Forename;
  • Date of Birth/Expected Due Date / Age;
  • Gender;
  • Address;
  • Home Telephone Number and Mobile Telephone Number;
  • Is English their first language If no, please specify their preferred language;
  • Are there any other communication needs? If yes, please specify;
  • Ethnicity;
  • NHS Number (if known);
  • Does the child have a disability? (if known);
  • If yes, please give details;
  • Previous addresses if known (if from outside Rotherham, or at present address less than 1 year).

Other children

If there are other children in the household, the only required information is the name of the child and their relationship to the subject child; address if different to the subject child; age / date of birth; ethnicity; disability and communication issues.

If there are more than 5 children in the household there is a text box for you to record additional details as free text. You can also give these details over the phone when speaking to the MASH worker.

Parents / carers

There is space in the form to complete information about four parents / carers. This is to allow for details about step-parents or parents’ current or previous partners to be recorded.

The information required for each person is as follows:

  • Name;
  • Age/DOB;
  • Gender;
  • Address;
  • Home Telephone & Number Mobile Telephone Number;
  • Relationship to subject child or other siblings;
  • Do they have Parental Responsibility?
  • Is English their First language? If no, please specify their preferred language;
  • Are there any other communication needs? If yes, please specify;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Does the adult have a disability? (if known);
  • If yes, please give details.

Other significant adults

You will also be asked if there are any other significant adults whose details you need to record. This may be a member of the extended family, neighbour, family friend or other person significant to the child or to the risk you are concerned about.

The information requested for each person is as follows:

  • Name;
  • Age/DOB;
  • Gender;
  • Address Home;
  • Telephone Number & Mobile Telephone Number;
  • Relationship to subject child or other siblings;
  • Do they have Parental Responsibility?
  • Is English their First language?
  • If no, please specify their preferred language;
  • Are there any other communication needs?
  • If yes, please specify;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Does the adult have a disability? (if known);
  • If yes, please give details.


4. Information About Agency Involvement

You will be asked to consider if you know of any other agency working or involved with the child or family. This is because of the findings from most Serious Case Reviews and other learning processes where it was identified that no-one knew that other agencies were involved with a family. This is not a mandatory section and should not delay the completion of the form. It may however assist in gathering all relevant information quickly to assess the risk to the child/ren.

The information requested is as follows, relevant to each child if possible:

  • Professional role / job title;
  • Name of practitioner / professional;
  • Contact details;
  • School / nursery.

You will also be asked if you are aware of any previous social care involvement, either children’s social care services or adult social care services. If yes, you will be asked to give the following information if known:

  • Practitioner / social worker name;
  • Job title;
  • Contact details.

You will also be asked to provide the details of any workers / practitioners that you know are currently involved with the family, (including adult services such as drugs & alcohol, probation, domestic abuse etc.)

  • Practitioner name;
  • Job title;
  • Contact details.


5. Risk to Professionals

You will also be asked if there are there any known issues that may present a risk to professionals when visiting this family / household. This will give you the opportunity to raise any concerns, such as an aggressive dog, a parent is known to verbally or physically abuse other professionals, such as the police or medical staff. If the family should always be visited by at least two professionals this should be noted.


6. Risk and Need Assessment using the Strengthening Families Framework

The Strengthening Families Framework is a strengths based approach which uses three simple questions to ask when thinking about our work with a child and their family and when we consider that a safeguarding referral needs to be made. These need to consider the child’s circumstances holistically in terms of child development, parenting capacity, family and environmental factors:

  1. What are we worried about?
  2. What’s working well?
  3. What needs to happen?

This provides a sound and structured focus for the discussions that take place when we believe that children’s needs are not being met or they may be at risk of harm and when something else is needed to improve outcomes for the child.

The questions asked in the MARF are:

  1. “What are you worried about?”

    This section needs to be answered as fully as possible but in the context of the relationship you have with the child or family. The first question is required.

This question is asking you to consider what has prompted you to make the referral to the MASH about this child at this time. It asks you to put your concerns in the context of what you know professionally about the child or their family. Give details regarding the incident(s) bringing the family to the attention of your agency, outlining any pattern of individual or family behaviour that causes you concern.

You may not know very much about the parents of a child, particularly an absent parent; or you may not know very much about a child because you work with their parent (e.g. as a probation officer or adult mental health worker). However, you must have had some concerns about the child to consider making the referral and this is the information that is required.

Describe any behaviour you have observed or conversations you have had, giving the time and place and person/s present if possible. Answer as fully as you can, directing the MASH screener to any other sources of information you have, e.g. another professional / person you have spoken to or report you have read. Include factors you consider to pose risk of significant harm or increase the risk of harm to the child.

  1. Strengths – What’s working well?

This section is asking you to consider what features of family life and parenting have a positive effect on the child/ren’s lives. It is based on research-based “protective factors” (such as resiliency). Consider what the family feels is good about their family and how they cope with stress etc and how those factors also relate to the identified risk.

  1. What needs to happen?

    You will be asked what you believe will be the likely outcome for the child(ren) if their current situation continues; and what you believe will make this child(ren) safe?

This section is asking you to consider the risks to the child or family if this referral is not made now. Consider the risk and protective factors you have flagged up and compare them with the Multi-Agency Continuum of Need.

This section also invites you to look at what other solutions may be found in the child’s or family’s support network or what supports could be accessed through universal or early help services to avoid the necessity for a more response but ensure that the child is safe from suffering significant harm. Consider what the risks would be if no action is taken.

This section also asks you to consider what you think would help to reduce your concerns. This might be that you know that other agencies (such as the school) are monitoring the child, or that the family will receive an early help service.

There is another question in this section that asks about what your agency can continue to do to support the child, parents/carers or family.

  1. What areas of risk or concern can your agency help the children, parents/carers to resolve?

    You will be asked what you r agency can do to continue to support the child and family.

This section is asking you to consider what you can do to continue to work with the family if you are currently working with them; or what you can do if you are not already working with them.


7. Early Help

The majority of children thrive without additional support and through receipt of universal services such as schools, GP's etc. However, if you have a concern about a child and family that leads you to think that there are additional needs that would benefit from support, it is a good idea to speak to the family about the benefits of the Early Help Assessment. The Early Help Assessment (EHA) enables holistic understanding of need across a family and helps to establish a structured plan of support to meet need and improve circumstances. The Early Help Assessment is a multi-agency assessment process that allows central visibility of concerns for other professionals supports multi-agency information sharing and facilitates a coordinated response by appropriate professionals. For more information see Early Help website and Early Help Guidance: Integrated Working With Children, Young People and Families With Vulnerable or Complex Needs.

You will be asked if you know whether an Early Help Assessment (EHA) has been completed. If you do know, please indicate when and the details.

If you are working with a child or young person for whom an EHA has already been fully completed, you can attach the completed EHA to your Multi-Agency Referral Form (MARF). It is your responsibility to ensure that all the basic information required is included as part of your referral, either on this form or in the completed EHA. Failure to do so may cause delay in help for the child and family.

Please note that an EHA is not a referral but it can be used to support a referral. It is not, however necessary to have completed an EHA prior to making a referral. If a referral is assessed as not meeting the threshold for referral as outlined in the Continuum of Needs (Threshold Descriptors) then it will be considered for ‘stepping down’ to the Early Help Triage Team to identify relevant universal and/or targeted services to offer appropriate support provision. For more information see Early Help Guidance: Integrated Working With Children, Young People and Families With Vulnerable or Complex Needs.

The information within the MARF regarding the child/family and their needs may be shared with representatives from agencies including: schools, parenting team, local children centres, health practitioners, CAMHS, youth offending services, adult mental health services plus other practitioners relating to the support needs presented.

If a referral is being made in relation to early help it is essential that you have the consent of the family to make the referral.


8. Referrer’s details

As the person making the referral, you will be asked to give your contact details. The information required is as follows:

  • Your Name;
  • Your Agency;
  • Your role;
  • Address;
  • Email address;
  • Contact number;
  • Date of referral;
  • Has the referral has been discussed with your Safeguarding Lead Officer or Line Manager (if relevant);
  • If yes please give their name and title.


9. Contact with MASH

You will be asked if you have you already telephoned the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). If you have, you will be asked to record who you spoke to and the date.

Please ensure that within this referral you have recorded in full detail any information or concerns that you shared with the MASH social worker via telephone, including your professional opinion on the concerns.


10. Consent

You are encouraged to speak with the child and family to discuss your concerns. This ensures the voice of the child and parent is understood and reflected in your referral and will assist in assessing the risk, the level of concern and appropriate level of intervention. However, if such a discussion would place the child at increased risk of harm, then this discussion should not take place and the referral should be made without the knowledge of the parents. In this case you must provide an explanation for why you have not been able to seek consent. This will help us to understand and assess risk.

If you are referring the child or family for Early Help services and there are no safeguarding concerns, you must speak to the child / family and you must gain consent.

You will be asked to respond to the following questions:

  • Have you informed the parent/carer and/or young person that you are making this referral?
  • Do you have consent for this referral?
  • If no, please tell us why not;
  • Name of person giving consent;
  • Date consent given;
  • Was the consent verbal / written.

End