Whilst we understand Children’s Social Services’ reasons for making this request, there is no obligation to do this if you prefer to use the Thirtyone:eight model policy as it stands.
Children’s Social Services could be unaware of the professionalism and expertise of Thirtyone:eight and apprehensive about referrals being made to a non-statutory child protection agency. They may well need reassuring about our role and the basis on which we deal with such concerns.
We the lead Christian child protection agency. The model safeguarding policy in our manual, ‘Safe and Secure’ is recommended by the Department for Education in ‘Working Together’ 2010. Our organisation employs social workers experienced in child protection, and who have worked for local authorities for many years. All our advice will be confirmed in writing.
Sometimes, it will be apparent that a child could be at risk of significant harm and you will have no doubt about the need to contact either Children’s Social Services or the Police. In other cases, such as poor parenting, the situation is less clear, and you may wish to take advice. Sometimes individuals are reluctant to contact the authorities direct and this is where Thirtyone:eight can be of help because we offer independent advice. Social Services departments have received a bad press (sometimes quite unjustifiably), and it’s not always easy therefore to make that first call. This is particularly true if it means contacting them without consulting the parents (as is often necessary) and perhaps in circumstances where the individuals involved are part of a church community. There is evidence that, without our advice, some calls would just not be made.
Another reason people contact us is because we provide an out-of office hours service. Although in theory Children’s Social Services offer the same, it is not always as accessible with less staff to deal with referrals. We have been able to reassure callers on the action they should take, either waiting until the Children’s Social Services Department offices are open again or if immediate action is required giving advice on what they should do.
The important thing is that workers are able to respond promptly to concerns, whether or not they phone Children’s Social Services, Police or Thirtyone:eight in the first instance, being assured of our support whichever agency is contacted.