Outcome of Section 47 enquiries

Local authority social workers are responsible for deciding what action to take and how to proceed following section 47 enquiries.

Overview

Local authority social workers are responsible for deciding what action to take and how to proceed following section 47 enquiries.

If local authority children’s social care decides not to proceed with a child protection conference then other professionals involved with the child and family have the right to request that the local authority children’s social are convene a conference, if they have serious concerns that a child’s welfare may not be adequately safeguarded.  As a last resource the LSCB should have in place a quick and straightforward means of resolving differences of opinion.

Local authority children's social care should decide on an outcome for any s47 enquiries. The decision should be reached following discussion with involved professionals and agencies and the child and his/her parents. When the s47 enquiries have considered multiple children within he same household, it is possible to have a different outcome for each child. Where there are different outcomes for individual children, the management rationale should be clearly recorded on the child's electronic record. The outcome should be clearly recorded on the agreed format on the day a decision is reached. A copy of the record should be provided in accordance with the Single Assessment procedure to

  • parents
  • children (of sufficient age and appropriate level of understanding)
  • involved professionals and agencies

Where concerns of significant harm are not substantiated

Section 47 enquiries may not substantiate the original concerns that the child was suffering or was likely to suffer significant harm. In such circumstances it may be decided that

  • completion of a section 47 enquiry means that the assessment has been completed and no further action is necessary or
  • that services should be provided under section 17 of the Children Act 1989
  • the concerns are specific to an individual child within the family

Social workers with their managers

  • should discuss the case with the child, parents and other professionals;
  • determine whether support from any services may be helpful and help secure it; and
  • should consider whether the child’s health and development should be re-assessed regularly against specific objectives and decide who has responsibility for doing this.

All involved professionals

  • should participate in further discussions as necessary;
  • should contribute to the development of any plan as appropriate;
  • should provide services as specified in the plan for the child; and
  • should review the impact of services delivered as agreed in the plan.

Where concerns are substantiated but the child is not judged to be continuing to or be likely to suffer significant harm

In these circumstances the involved agencies agree that a plan for ensuring the child's future safety and welfare can be developed and implemented without having a child protection conference. This may occur because

  • the caregiver has taken responsibility for the harm they caused the child and the assessment concludes that it is unlikely that the harm will occur again
  • the family's circumstances have changed
  • the person responsible for the harm is no longer in contact with the child or because significant harm incurred as the result of an isolated incident
  • the concerns are specific to an individual child within the family

A decision not to proceed to conference where there is significant harm should be based on an assessment that a parent, caregiver or members of the child's wider family are willing and able to cooperate to ensure the child's safety and welfare. A plan informed by an assessment should be put in place setting out who will be responsible for what including what will happen if the plan is not being successfully implemented. It should also include a timescale for review of progress. Local authority children's social care have a duty to ascertain the child's wishes and feelings and take these into account (having regard to the child's age and understanding) when deciding on he provision of services.

A designated social work manager should endorse the decision. In cases of dispute, an involved agency has the right to request that the local authority children's social care convene a child protection conference if they have serious concerns that a child's welfare may not otherwise be adequately safeguarding. If the involved agencies cannot come to a mutual agreement then this should be resolved in line with LSCB procedures.

Where concerns of significant harm are substantiated and the child is judged to be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm:

Social workers with their managers

  • should convene an initial child protection conference (see next section for details).  The timing of this conference should depend on the urgency of the case and respond to the needs of the child and the nature and severity of the harm they may be facing.  The initial child protection conference should take place within 15 working days of a strategy discussion or the strategy discussion at which section 47 enquiries were initiated if more than one has been held;
  • should consider whether any professionals with specialist knowledge should be invited to participate;
  • should ensure that the chid and their parents understand the purpose of the conference and who will attend; and
  • should help prepare the child if he or she is attending or making representations through a third party to the conference.  Give information about advocacy agencies and explain that the family may bring an advocate, friend or supporter.

All involved professionals

  • should contribute to the information their agency provides ahead of the conference, setting out the nature of the agency’s involvement with the child and family;
  • should consider in conjunction with the police and the appointed conference chair, whether he report can and should be shared with the parents and if so when; and
  • should attend the conference and take part in decision making when invited.