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The Referral Process

The local authority (Children’s Social Care) must take all reports (or Referrals) seriously. This summarises the procedures that will be followed.

Stage 1 – Initial Assessment

All Referrals will be considered by a Social Worker in Children’s Services, and an may be conducted.

It may be necessary to take immediate action to protect you or the child(ren) involved, in the extreme, this can result in children being temporarily cared for by a Foster Carer. If this happens to you and your brothers and sisters, you’ll usually be cared for by the same foster carers.

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Stage 2 – Strategy Discussion

If it looks like abuse has happened or might happen, the social workers and others, like teachers or the Police, will hold a meeting called a to decide whether a Child Protection Enquiry is necessary (see the next stage).

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Stage 3 – Child Protection Enquiry

If a is started, this will involve a Social Worker and the Police assessing the concerns or allegations, the Child(ren) and Parents will be involved in this process.

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Stage 4: Initial Child Protection Conference

At the end of the Child Protection Inquiry, an will be conducted, chaired by an Independent Manager. You might be invited to this meeting.


You have rights too…

If you are unhappy about any aspect of the meeting, you should talk to the chair of the meeting to discuss your views. If you feel you haven’t been properly informed or involved, seek advice from a Solicitor, Brighton and Hove Citizens Advice Bureau or you can make a complaint. Ask your social worker or chair to explain the complaint process, see, 6.12- Complaints by service user’s procedures . If you have a complaint about your social worker or chair of the conference you can contact:

Brighton and Hove City Council

Standards and Complaints

Telephone number: 0500 291 229

Email: Complaints@brighton-hove.gov.uk

For more information on Family CAFs please see here or look at Brighton & Hove Children’s Services booklet on Supporting Families


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Where it appears that a child is a Child in Need, an Initial Assessment must be undertaken by a social worker. The Initial Assessment must be undertaken within a maximum of 7 days of a Referral but may be completed much sooner where, for example, there is clear evidence to demonstrate that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm.
A Strategy Discussion (sometimes referred to as a Strategy Meeting) is normally held following an Initial Assessment which indicates that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm. The purpose of a Strategy Meeting is to determine whether there are grounds for a Section 47 Enquiry.
A Child Protection Enquiry (usually referred to as a Section 47 Enquiry) is required if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm. This normally occurs after an Initial Assessment and a Strategy Discussion/Meeting.
An Initial Child Protection Conference is normally convened at the end of a Section 47 Enquiry when the child is assessed as either having suffered Significant Harm or to be at risk of suffering ongoing significant harm. The Initial Child Protection Conference should be held within 15 days of the Strategy Discussion, or the last strategy discussion if more than one has been held.