Advice if you are unsure

Deciding whether or not to make an enquiry regarding concerns about the welfare of a child is often not easy. In some circumstances it is obvious that you must refer. Many situations are not so clear. A good guide is that if you are asking yourself if you should refer, at the very least, you should be consulting and seeking advice.
If you think a child, or unborn baby, has suffered or is likely to suffer serious harm you must contact the MASH.  Multi-Agency Support Hub

It is possible for you either to speak to your manager or the designated person responsible for child protection, within your agency without making a referral, this is called a "hypothetical discussion". They will have a discussion with you about the situation and you can jointly decide whether a referral should be made. You can also contact a social worker in the MASH team for such a discussion if you are still unsure about what to do.

In this situation you will need details about the family but do not necessarily need to pass on names and addresses until you are confident that you want to make a referral.

If the social worker advises you to make a referral they will help you with what information you should give to the family and when this information should be given.

Should you decide not to follow the advice of the social worker you should advise them of your decision, the reasons for it and clearly record this in your own agency records. You should also discuss your decision with your manager or the designated child protection adviser. The social worker will also record the conversation and what was advised and may contact your agency for further debate.

What does research tell us?

Research by Eileen Munro1 points out that people tend to make a judgment about other people, or a situation, very quickly. Once they have done this, they tend to focus on information that confirms their view while ignoring information that contradicts it. Because of this, when discussing a case other points of view should be considered. Because of this, when discussing a case the manager should ask the worker to consider other points of view.


1. Munro, E. (1999). Common errors of reasoning in child protection work. Child Abuse and Neglect 23: 745-758

This page was added to the website on 2 July 2015
18 January 2016 to include referrals to MASH


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