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BexleyChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Early Help: Family Wellbeing Service Procedure

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure details how the Family Wellbeing Service operates, working with partners to help with children, young people and families.

The chapter includes a step-up and step-down processes and procedures and a Flow Chart to assist understanding this process.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

The Bexley Threshold: Bexley Safeguarding Partnership - Effective Support for Children, Young People and Families in Bexley

This chapter was added to the manual in April 2017.

Contents

  1. Eligibility
  2. Referrals to the Family Wellbeing Service & Consent

  3. Allocation to a Family Wellbeing Key Worker
  4. Wellbeing Assessment

  5. Signposting

  6. Initial Planning Meeting & Wellbeing Plan

  7. Family Wellbeing Key Worker Visits

  8. Reviewing the Plan
  9. Ending Our Work with Families - Case Closure
  10. Recording Practice
  11. Feedback from Families
  12. Supervision, Management Oversight & Quality Assurance
  13. Appendix One: Early Help Processes and Procedures Flowchart
  14. Appendix Two: Early Help & Family Wellbeing & Children's Social Care Referral Form

1. Eligibility

The Family Wellbeing Service provides early help to families experiencing one or more of the following four factors at tier two level of need, where the factor impacts on the child or young person’s wellbeing:

  • Parental domestic violence;
  • Parental mental ill-health;
  • Parental substance misuse;
  • Children at risk of exclusion or those who have already been excluded from school.
If the any of the above factors are acute or chronic and impairing the child or young person’s welfare or placing them at risk of significant harm, they are likely to sit within tier four and require a specialist service. Children and young people assessed to be ‘in need’ or ‘at risk of harm’ will be referred straight to the Children’s Social Care service, not the Family Wellbeing Service.

2. Referrals to the Family Wellbeing Service & Consent

Parent/carers must have provided explicit and written consent for a referral to be made to the Family Wellbeing Service. A family can self refer, alternatively if a professional is making a referral on behalf of a family they will need to complete a referral form including the parents/carers written consent. The referral form can be found at: Bexley Family Wellbeing Service.

All referrals whether new or re-referrals need to be made through Children’s Services Front Door-MASH (Multi Safeguarding Hub). The request will be recorded on a ‘Contact Record’ on L.C.S. (Children’s Social Care Case Management Recording System). A practitioner in the Front Door-MASH will then make an initial decision from the options below, within 24 hours of receiving the information.

See also Early Help Processes and Procedures Flowchart.

  1. If the information received indicates the child or young person’s need does not meet the eligibility criteria for a Family Wellbeing Service, the referrer and/or family will be contacted and signposted to another early help service in the local community (e.g. a children’s centre);
  2. If the information received suggests that the child or young person is ‘in need’ or ‘at risk of harm’ the referral will not be sent to the Family Wellbeing Service, instead the referrer and family will be contacted to discuss and decide whether the family should be re-directed to a Children’s Social Care for a social work assessment;
  3. If the information received indicates the eligibility criteria for a Family Wellbeing Service is clearly met, the ‘Contact Record’ will be directed to the Family Wellbeing Service referral inbox (On L.C.S.). The information will be reviewed by a Family Wellbeing manager, providing a secondary safety check on the initial Front Door-MASH decision and either signpost the referrer or family (Option a), re-direct to children’s social care (Option b) or accept the referral into the Family Wellbeing Service (Option c).

The threshold decision made in the MASH cannot be changed by the Family Wellbeing service. If there is dispute about this decision the case will need to escalated immediately through line management for resolution, which needs to be decided within 24 hours.

The Family Wellbeing Service will have a manager on duty every working day (9am to 5pm) to review all incoming referrals. When the duty manager accepts a new referral, the manager will convert the L.C.S. Contact Record into a Family Wellbeing ‘Referral’ and open the case by starting a wellbeing episode on E.H.M. (Family Wellbeing Case Management Recording System). The family will be allocated a Family Key Worker within 24 hours of creating the Family Wellbeing Service episode.

Outside of office hours, there is an answerphone facility; messages will be responded to on the next working day.

Transferring a family from Children’s Social Care to the Family Wellbeing Service

When Children’s Social Care social work specialist service has been helping a family to improve a situation, the child or young person’s needs should have lessened and the family may no longer require a statutory service. However, to embed the positive changes the family may need some continued help at a non-statutory level. With agreement, families who meet the Family Wellbeing Service criteria and that want to continue to receive a service, can be transferred from Children’s Social Care to the Family Wellbeing Service. To transfer a family the social worker will need to present the case at weekly transfer panel.

Transferring a family from Family Wellbeing Service to Children’s Social Care

If at any time the family Key Worker thinks the family’s difficulties are worsening and the team around the family become worried that the child or young person’s needs are increasing, the family Key Worker must alert a Family Wellbeing manager immediately. Following a case mapping session (if necessary), the manager will decide whether or not to transfer the family to Children’s Social Care.

If the child or young person is considered to be ‘in need’ of a statutory social work assessment, the family should be transferred to Children’s Social Care by the Family Key Worker presenting the case at the next weekly transfer panel.

If the child or young person is considered to be at risk of, or suffering from significant harm, the family will be transferred from Family Wellbeing Service to Children’s Social Care Assessment duty team immediately and a Child Protection (Section 47) Strategy Meeting held. The Family Key Worker and manager must attend the Strategy Meeting.

The Family Key Worker will need to discuss the worries with the family and inform them of intended actions and next steps, unless by doing so it would place the child or young person at further risk of harm. This must be discussed with and judgement made by the Family Wellbeing manager.

Transfer’s between Family Wellbeing Service and Children’s Social Care in either direction should not be subject to dispute or delay. Transfer panel is held weekly and is chaired by a service manager, the decision whether or not to transfer cases is made at that meeting and cannot be changed.

Family Key Workers attending transfer panel will need to be prepared with a transfer summary, summarising the family history, worries, strengths and what needs to happen for the lives of child or young person to be improved. The allocated Family Key Worker and manager will attend the transfer panel to present the case.

Once the decision is made and a transfer date is agreed at transfer panel, the receiving manager will open a case record on either L.C.S. or E.H.M. A handover meeting will be take place which involves both the existing worker who is handing over to the new allocated worker. This should be followed by a ending letter to the family. The handover meeting has taken place, the releasing manager can close the case file on their respective case management system.

See also The Bexley Threshold: Bexley Safeguarding Partnership - Effective Support for Children, Young People and Families in Bexley.

3. Allocation to a Family Wellbeing Key Worker

A manager in the Family Wellbeing Service will be on duty every day and responsible for monitoring the incoming referral inbox on L.C.S on a daily basis. All new referrals will be allocated to Key Worker within 24 hours of receipt. The manager will allocate cases according to the knowledge, skills and capacity of the Key Worker. The manager will record a case allocation note and include:

  • Name of the allocated Key Worker;
  • The number of children or young people in the family and a summary of their need(s) as they are known at the point of referral, with a Signs of Wellbeing scaling based on the information presented;
  • Timescales for the Key Worker to:
    1. Initial conversation/visit with the family;
    2. Completion of the wellbeing assessment;
    3. First team around the family planning meeting;
    4. Case review with a manager.

Introductory conversation with the family

The allocated Key Worker should contact the family as soon as possible to arrange an introductory visit within 5 days (or as directed by the manager) of being allocated the family. The purpose of the introductory visit is to explain the service, what it does, how it works and start building a relationship with the family, exploring the situation and start the wellbeing assessment.

4. Wellbeing Assessment

A wellbeing assessment will be undertaken with every family referred to the Family Wellbeing Service. The Key Worker will lead the assessment by meeting with all the significant family members to listen to their experiences, discuss the difficulties and help them think about possible solutions. With the consent of the family, the Key Worker may also contact other agencies e.g. the child’s school, to further inform the assessment and to become involved in a team around the family, to put a plan of help in place.

The purpose of the wellbeing assessment is to help the family identify:

  • Who is in their own family and community network;
  • What is going well and strengths that already exist;
  • What they and/or others are worried about;
  • What needs to change and what are their goals;
  • What help they need to achieve their goals and sustain the changes.

The Key Worker should write up the assessment and have had it authorised by a manager, within 20 days of the referral. The assessment record will be shared with the parents/carers and child or young person where they are old enough to do so.

5. Signposting

Where a wellbeing assessment is undertaken and it found that the family do not meet the eligibility criteria, or it is agreed that the child or young person’s needs could be met by other services in the community. The Key Worker must discuss with their manager for consideration to signpost the family to alternative services. If the manager is in agreement the Key Worker will need to seek consent from the parents/carers to make a referral(s) as required and arrange a hand over meeting with the identified service within 5 working days of the decision to close. The information shared in the hand over meeting will need to be agreed with the family.

6. Initial Planning Meeting & Wellbeing Plan

After the initial visit has started to identify what the family goals are and what help they need to reach their goals, the Key Worker will arrange an initial wellbeing planning meeting with the family and relevant partners, to complete the assessment and develop the wellbeing plan. The purpose of the wellbeing plan is to agree:

  • What needs to happen (actions);
  • Who needs to be involved in helping (team around the family);
  • When actions need to be done (timescales);
  • Identify how everyone will know whether the situation is changing and goals are being met (measuring outcomes);
  • How frequently the Key Worker and partners needs to visit to facilitate the plan (visits);
  • When the plan should be reviewed by the team around the family (review).

7. Family Wellbeing Key Worker Visit

The Key Worker should arrange all visits in advance, negotiating and agreeing frequency and location with the family. Whilst undertaking the wellbeing assessment, the number of visits should be determined by the complexity of the situation. After the initial wellbeing planning meeting, Key Worker visits should not be less than every 4 weeks. Visits may be undertaken outside of the family home in different setting such as school. Where confidential discussions are to be held, these must not take in public spaces in for reasons of confidentiality. Visits must be planned and purposeful, focused on progressing the wellbeing plan.

8. Reviewing the Plan

The wellbeing assessment and progress of the wellbeing plan should be routinely reviewed with the family at every visit. Formal Review Meetings should be held at a minimum of every 3 months. The Key Worker should organise these meetings in advance, with the relevant family members and team around them.

9. Ending Our Work with Families - Case Closure

When the family feel that things have improved, they have reached their goals and/or they no longer want or need the Family Wellbeing Service, the Key Worker should discuss with their manager in supervision and try to arrange a ending meeting with the family and the team around the child. In the ending meeting it should be agreed what the family and any partner agencies might continue to do to help, or what to do if the positive changes are not sustained after the Family Wellbeing Service is no longer involved. The meeting can act as a goodbye visit, and should be followed by a closure letter which includes the final wellbeing plan and closure summary. See standard template in N:\Directorate of Social & Community Services\Children & Families\Strategies Policies & Procedures\Leaving Care and Transitions.

Where families refuse or choose to disengage with the Family Wellbeing Service, but the originating worries continue to exist, the Key Worker should discuss with a manager in supervision. Consideration should be given as to whether the family’s withdrawal is worrying enough to initiate a referral to Children’s Social Care for a social work assessment.

A manager will close the case record on E.H.M when the case recordings are completed to a good standard. See below what a case file should contain upon closure.

10. Recording Practice

The Family Wellbeing Key Worker and manager should record all actions, observations, analysis and decisions on E.H.M. Visits should be recorded as a ‘case note’ (stating visit type) within 24 hours. All cases must contain the following records:

  • Referral (including written consent) & allocation note;
  • Genogram and ecomap (or equivalent) of the family network;
  • Wellbeing assessment;
  • Wellbeing plan and updates;
  • A family story of significant events;
  • Case note records of visits & actions taken;
  • Minutes of initial and review wellbeing planning meetings;
  • Uploaded letters to the family;
  • Uploaded direct work undertaken with the child, young person and family;
  • Feedback forms;
  • Case, transfer and closure summaries;
  • Supervision notes & management oversight.

11. Feedback from Families

Throughout the course of working with a family, the Key Worker should routinely seek feedback from the family about whether the help being provided is working well and ways practice could be improved. This can be done informally, through feedback forms, by speaking with a manager or attending a feedback session. At the ending visit/meeting the Key Worker must provide the family with feedback forms.

12. Supervision, Management Oversight & Quality Assurance

Managers should have oversight of cases throughout the time the family is receiving a service, oversight will always be provided at the following critical points:

  • Allocation;
  • Following the introductory visit;
  • Completion of the wellbeing assessment;
  • Following the Initial Wellbeing Planning Meeting and completion of the first plan;
  • Following the Initial Wellbeing Planning Meeting and updating the plan;
  • Transfers;
  • Closure.

Appendices

Appendix One: Early Help Processes and Procedures Flowchart

Appendix Two: Early Help & Family Wellbeing & Children's Social Care Referral Form