This chapter outlines, for multi-agency practitioners, the importance of close working between children’s and adults workers, and between partners on the Trafford Strategic Safeguarding Partnership. Practitioners working with adults who are concerned about a child have a duty to report their concerns.
December 2018: This chapter has been amended to reflect the revised Working Together to Safeguard Children statutory guidance, which was published in July 2018.
1. Safeguarding Children
The Children Act 1989 and Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2018) provide the legislative framework for agencies to work together to protect and safeguard children. Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In all adult safeguarding activity, staff working with the person considered to be experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect should establish whether there are children in the family. Checks should also be made on children and young people who are part of the same household, irrespective of whether they are dependent on care either from the adult at risk, or the person alleged to have caused harm.
Children and young people may be at greater risk of harm or be in need of additional help in families where adults have mental health problems, misuse substances or alcohol, are in a violent relationship, have complex needs or have learning difficulties / disabilities.
Abuse within families reflects a diverse range of relationships and power dynamics, which may affect the causes and impact of abuse. These can challenge professionals to work across multi-disciplinary boundaries in order to protect all those at risk. In particular staff may be assisted by using Domestic Abuse risk management tools as well as safeguarding risk management tools, such as the MA RAM toolkit (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Model – for information about how to view the model, contact Trafford Strategic Safeguarding Partnership), a risk assessment tool developed by Bruce Thornton to support the work of non-social care agencies to deliver safe management of cases at the early help level. Children who are cared for by adults with vulnerabilities described above who are not at risk may benefit from early help and the most appropriate agency involved with the family should lead on completing an early help assessment which adult services should contribute to. More information about early help can be found on the Trafford Strategic Safeguarding Partnership (Children) website.
Staff providing services to adults, children and families should have appropriate training whereby they are able to identify risks and abuse to children as well as adults who may be vulnerable. The TSSP provide training for professionals who work with children and families. More information about safeguarding children, training and access to Trafford’s safeguarding children’s procedures can be found on the TSSP website. If you have concerns about a child’s immediate safety you should contact the police. If you have concerns that a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse, contact Trafford’s Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Team (MARAT).
2. Partnership Working
Although the Trafford Strategic Safeguarding Partnership (Children) works to different legislation (Care Act 2014; Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004) to the Trafford Strategic Partnership (Adults) and therefore has different statutory duties and responsibilities, there are significant overlaps in the processes they use, and the organisations and professionals which support the TSSP to deliver its objectives.
Such areas of common work include young people transitioning between children’s and adult services (see Transition to Adult Care and Support), domestic violence and abuse (see Domestic Violence and Abuse), and working with complex families. These provide potential for joint working between the TSSP partners and / or their sub groups. It is important therefore that any joint working practices or opportunities for joint working and sharing of information are explored.
2. Responsibilities to Safeguard Children
If a professional working with an adult becomes aware a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, they have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. All staff must be aware that where there is a concern that an adult experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect and there are children in the same household, the children too could be at risk.
As well as child protection issues, agencies or professionals who work with adults can also have a key role in referring a child for early help which means relevant services providing support as soon as a problem emerges at any point in a child’s life.
In such instances staff should make reference to local Safeguarding Children Procedures and / or contact their local children’s social care (see Local Contacts).