Think Family

....it's not just the thought that counts

Think Family isn’t a new concept, but one that partners across the City of London and Hackney recognise as being essential to securing better outcomes for children, young people and adult family members.

As professionals engaged across a variety of services and settings, we also recognise that effective multi-agency practice is more than just “thinking family”.

When it comes to meeting needs and ensuring the protection of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, it’s not just the thought that counts – it’s the action taken.

Being committed to such a whole family approach makes sense and requires all services working with a child, young person or adult family members need to work effectively in partnership.

It requires all services focussing on prevention and early intervention to secure the best long-term outcomes for everyone.

Importantly, it requires the right professionals, with the right skills, being engaged at the right time to help children, young people and adults.  To do this successfully;

Professionals and volunteers working with children and young people need to:

 

Identify

Be alert to any additional needs of parents / carers or other adults that they might come into contact with as part of their work with a family.  This includes, but is not limited to, adult mental health, adult learning difficulties, adult learning disabilities, substance misuse and domestic abuse.


Refer

Talk with the specialist adult services that can potentially help meet those additional needs. It is good practice to discuss these with the parents/carers first to help them to get the care and support that they may need. Seek their consent to share the information responsibly with other professionals, unless there are clear reasons for not doing so. In the context of safeguarding people from harm or abuse, refusal of consent can be overridden. See More Here.


Assess

Involve specialist adult services in any early help or statutory assessment (assessments under the Children Act 1989) of children and young people to determine whether or not parents require support to enable them to care for their children and / or whether the additional needs present a significant risk.


Plan

Involve relevant adult services in any planning to ensure that the needs of children and young people are met through a focus on the specialist support that adults may require as parents / carers.

Transition planning is of paramount importance to a think family approach. When young people reach the age of 18, their vulnerabilities don’t simply disappear.  Professionals working with children and young people need to proactively share information and jointly develop agreed plans with those in adult services.  This is essential towards ensuring effective safeguarding arrangement remain in place where necessary. 


Intervene

Ensure that coordinated intervention, led by skilled professionals and volunteers, engages all relevant services to support adults in their role as parents / carers or significant others in a child or young person’s life.

Professionals and volunteers working with adults need to:

 

Identify

Children need to be SEEN, HEARD and HELPED. Be alert to any children and young people in the household or those that may have regular contact with the adults being engaged.  When working with a parent, consideration must always be given to the impact of a parent’s needs on their parenting capacity and whether this presents a risk.


Refer

Know who to talk with in children’s services when children and young people are identified. If potential issues of concerns are identified, it is good practice to discuss these with the parents/carers first to help them to get the care and support that they or the child/young person may need. Seek their consent to share the information responsibly with other professionals, unless there are clear reasons for not doing so. In the context of safeguarding people from harm or abuse, refusal of consent can be overridden. See More Here


Assess

Engage in any early help or statutory assessment (assessments under the Children Act 1989) of children and young people.  The specialist focus of adult services is necessary to support that individual – but also help determine risk, if any, and what support needs are required for the adult in terms of their parenting role.


Plan

Remain fully involved in all planning to ensure that parental needs are properly supported to help their ability to care. Where parents are unable to care for their children – their support needs as individuals also remain.

Transition planning is of paramount importance to a think family approach. Professionals working with adults need to proactively share information and jointly develop agreed plans with those in children’s services. This is essential towards ensuring effective safeguarding arrangements remain in place where necessary. 


Intervene

Ensure that coordinated intervention, led by skilled professionals and volunteers, engages all relevant services to support adults in their role as parents / carers or significant others in a child or young person’s life.

A range of national learning, reflected through case reviews involving both children and adults frequently point to lessons needing to be learnt about how children and adult services work together.


Pathways to harm, pathways to protection: a triennial analysis of serious case reviews 2011 to 2014, published by the Government in May 2016 reinforces the significance of parental need in those cases where children have died or been significantly harmed.

A study of those reviews indicated that a wide range of factors in the parents’ backgrounds may raise potential risks to the child. These factors appear to interact with each other, creating cumulative levels of risk the more factors are present:

– Domestic abuse

– Parental mental health problems

– Drug and alcohol misuse

– Adverse childhood experiences

– A history of criminality, particularly violent crime

– Patterns of multiple, consecutive partners

– Acrimonious separation


Our own local learning has also recently reflected these lessons and has resulted in a range of improvements to ensure better coordination and more effective safeguarding responses.  The full details of all the reviews undertaken by the CHSCB are available here:

Child E: where child neglect wasn’t responded to effectively and a range of lessons are identified about how all professionals need to think family and heighten their knowledge about how to respond to neglect.

Child H: where lessons are identified about improved coordination between adults and children’s service and the need for clear pathways in responding to adult’s with potential learning disabilities.

Child D: where lessons are identified in respected of the response to domestic violence and abuse.

City of London:

 

Worried about a child?

City of London Children and Families Team: 0207 332 3621 / 0208 356 2710 (out of hours)

 

Worried about an adult?

Adult Social Care: 0207 332 1224

Adult Learning Disability Service: 0208 356 7444 / 7400

Adult Mental Health (East London NHS Foundation Trust): 0208 510 8011

Domestic Violence (Public Protection Unit): 0207 601 2940

Substance Misuse (Square Mile Health): 0300 303 2715


Hackney:

 

Worried about a child?

Hackney First Access & Screening Team: 0208 356 5500 / 0208 356 2710 (out of hours)

 

Worried about an adult?

Adult Social Care: 0208 356 6262

Adult Learning Disability Service: 0208 356 7444 / 7400

Adult Mental Health (East London NHS Foundation Trust): 0208 510 8011

Domestic Violence (Hackney Council Domestic Violence Team): 0208 356 4459/9

Substance Misuse (Westminster Drugs Project): 0300 303 2611

Developed by the City & Hackney Safeguarding Children Board (CHSCB) and the City & Hackney Safeguarding Adults Board (CHSAB) for all professionals and volunteers that work with or may come into contact with children, young people and adults.