We have made some improvements here at Dorset Council that we hope will improve the lives of children and families and provide better support to you as the professionals working with them.
We want to make sure that every child receives the right help - regardless of whether social care involvement is needed or not. We know you'll all agree that it is important to help families before they reach crisis point, as that's ultimately better for our children and young people.
Sometimes families need the support of social workers and when this is the case, we need to ensure that this is provided without delay. However, we also know that very often early support from other agencies can prevent concerns escalating.
Children and families have told us that, wherever it is safe, they would prefer this support to be provided by professionals they know and trust. We want to work more closely with you and your staff to agree together what support children and families need and who is best placed to meet the need.
On 2 October we launched our new Children's Advice and Duty Service. If you are concerned about a child and need support or advice from Children’s Services, you will be able to call a professionals-only number to discuss your concerns rather than complete a referral form. You will immediately speak with one of our consultant social workers who will go through these concerns with you. We'll continue to make the same safeguarding checks with partners in health and police as we do now within the current Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), but you will not need to complete a referral form. The intention will be to agree together what should happen next - whether this is allocating a social worker, family worker or supporting you in meeting the need through an early help assessment and team around the family approach. Our ethos is 'never doing nothing' so that families are supported as soon as they need help.
This has been designed with renowned safeguarding expert, Professor David Thorpe. He has worked with over 20 children’s services teams to create a single point of contact that provides better support for families and partner professionals to improve the lives of children and families by ensuring the right support is provided, at the right time. Our colleagues in Norfolk implemented Professor Thorpe’s model nearly a year ago and they have already seen an improvement in services offered to children and their families. We have visited their team and have seen for ourselves the benefits and how valued the support to partners is.
We’re really excited about launching the new service and are confident that it will help us work together to ensure that children and families in Dorset are supported at the right time, first time.
Answers to some frequently asked questions are attached to this article along with a flowchart and small and large format posters to help you publicise the service to colleagues. There is also a link to information on the Dorset Council website for the public to refer to.
If you have any other queries, please contact Service Manager, Maggie Aldwell at email@example.com or on 01305 225829. Or Susan Blizzard at firstname.lastname@example.org.