1. The core assessment must still be concluded and consideration given to whether there is a need for support and/or services, how this might be provided and by whom.
Enquiries may not substantiate the original concerns about the child suffering or being at risk of suffering significant harm but the core assessment must still be concluded. In some circumstances, no further action may be necessary. However, Children’s Social Care and other relevant agencies as necessary, should always consider with the family whether there is a need for support and/or services, how this might be provided and by whom.
The focus of child protection enquiries is the welfare of the child, and these enquiries may well reveal a range of needs. Many children who are the subject of child protection enquiries will fall within the definition of ‘children in need’ and the provision of help to these children and their families should not be dependent on their being found to have suffered abuse and neglect.
The outcome of an unsubstantiated Section 47 enquiry may therefore include:
- no further action;
- provision of information and advice;
- signposting or referral to other agencies;
- provision of services under Section 17, 1989 Children Act within a Child in Need Plan;
- family support meeting and provision of services within a Family Support Plan;
- family group conference;
- specialist assessment.
The decision on the appropriate outcome will be taken and recorded by the Duty/Team Manager. Feedback will be given to the family, the referrer, and other professionals. In particular, the family should receive confirmation of the outcome of the enquiry in writing.
In some cases there may remain suspicions about significant harm, but no real evidence. In these cases it may be appropriate to put in place arrangements to monitor the child’s welfare. It will be important to inform parents about the nature of any on-going concern and to make clear the purpose of monitoring i.e., what is being monitored, why, in what way and by whom. The arrangements must be reviewed within 3 months through the holding of a further discussion or meeting. However, monitoring should never be used as a means of deferring or avoiding difficult decisions.