Children & Families

Our Values and Standards

Our Values

We are committed to working in partnership with children and their families. Our belief is that children are best looked after within their own families and within their local communities. Only when such support is not able to meet the child's needs will we provide further services.

Our values are rooted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically:

Article 2:  Requires that no child is discriminated against. The Article mentions grounds such as disability, race, colour, sex, religion, national, ethnic or social origins, birth, property or other status.

Article 3:  Requires that the welfare of the child is a primary consideration when decisions concerning a child are being made.

Article 12:  States that children must be consulted on all matters of concern to them and that their views must be given due weight in accordance with maturity.

We further wish to promote the values contained within the National Assembly of Young People in Care Charter.

Our practice standards for children and families staff


We thought you should see the standards Devon Social Services asks its staff to work to:

General Principles

Phone calls and interviews with children and their carers, other agencies and the public will be conducted in a polite and sensitive manner.

Staff will be clear, open and honest in their dealings with children and their carers.

People will be informed as to whom they are speaking.

All staff will adhere to the principles of anti-racist and anti-discriminatory practice in respecting people's ethnicity, language, religion, culture, sexuality, gender and disability.

The nature and extent of a child's involvement in the Care Management process, will be determined by the child's age and understanding.

Where any of these standards are not met, the reason why must be recorded and brought to the attention of the relevant manager.

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Initial contact

All initial contacts with the Directorate will be recorded in accordance with local arrangements.

Information about our services or those of other organisations will be readily available, easy to understand and in different formats to meet the needs of disabled people or those whose main language is not English.

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Referral and initial assessment

Referral information will be collected in a structured format, and recorded in a clear and concise way.

Information gathered will be sufficient to inform a judgement about likely needs and risk and subsequent action required.

We will keep the number of times we request information to a minimum.

Information regarding ethnicity, language, religion and disability will be requested and recorded.

Information regarding carers will be gathered and recorded.

Children and their carers will be seen as part of the assessment process, separately as necessary.

The views of children and their carers will be recorded.

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Referral and initial assessment response times

Face-to-face office interviews will be arranged by appointment. People will not be kept waiting more than 15 minutes for their appointment without being advised of the reason for the delay and likely delay period. If the delay is unacceptable, alternative appointments will be offered.

A decision on what action is to be taken on a referral if anything will be made within one working day.

An initial assessment will be completed within seven working days.

The referrer and referred person will be advised of the referral outcome within three working days of assessment completion.

The assessment of emergency situations involving significant needs or risks, for example, child protection enquiries, will commence within 24 hours of receiving the referral.

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Core assessment/care plan

Children and carers will be advised what an assessment is and how it will be conducted.

Children and carers will be actively involved in the process and their views recorded. Practice Supervisors will decide the assessment outcome, informed by practitioner recommendation.

Assessments will include seeing children on their own as well as with their parents.

Assessments will involve seeking the views of other involved agencies subject to consent of the child and their carers, and any restrictions under the Human Rights Act.

Practitioners will use appropriate methods of communication depending on the needs of any individual within the family.

Children and carers will be provided with a copy of the assessment/care plan prior to service commencing.

All people receiving continuing services organised by Devon Social Services will have a care plan.

Care plans will specify need, risk, desired outcomes, and actions/services required. Outcome indicators will be written and agreed with service providers and monitored at the review stage.

Care plans will reflect the cost of services and contribution of the user.

Care plans will specify the function, type of review and indicate time-scales (for example, statutory/non-statutory reviews).

Care plans will state the level and type of care management support. Where this involves the provision of a casework service by a Social Worker, Occupational Therapist or Community Care Worker, the care plan will state the purpose of the intervention and anticipated time-scales for completion.

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Core assessment/care plan response times

Core assessments will be completed within 35 working days of completion of an initial assessment.

Cases involving child protection concerns will be taken to an initial child protection conference within 15 working days of the strategy discussion.

The referrer and referred person will be informed of the outcome within three working days of the assessment and care plan completion. Where this is not appropriate, the reason(s) will be recorded.

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Reviews will re-assess/redefine needs, thresholds, outcomes and services and the extent of care plan achievement.

Children and carers will be actively involved in the process and their views recorded. Reviews will take place in accordance with statutory or child protection requirements, at least six monthly or as stated on the care plan.

Children and carers will receive a copy of the review.

Service providers and any involved agencies will be invited to reviews and will receive a copy of the review subject to the consent of the child and their carers.

The effectiveness of services will be evaluated at each review and will be used to inform care plan changes.

Any Personal Care Management review not covered by child protection or permanency planning procedures will be face to face and chaired by a Practice Supervisor or designated qualified Social Work/Occupational Therapy Practitioner.

Care Co-ordination/Self Care Management reviews may be undertaken by phone or, where indicated, face to face. They will be conducted by an appropriately designated practitioner, as decided by the Help Desk Supervisor.

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Review response times

Children and their carers, service providers and any involved agencies will be informed of the outcome, within three working days of review completion (if not present).

Children and their carers, service providers and any other involved agencies will receive a copy of the review within 15 working days of review completion.

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Case recording

Assessments, care plans and reviews will be recorded on appropriate documentation in a concise, understandable manner that meets the communication needs of children and their carers.

Assessments will incorporate a clear summary analysis of needs and risks.

Recording will be evidence based.

Recording for legal purposes will be written contemporaneously and whilst fresh in the mind of the person making the record

Recording will clearly differentiate between fact and opinion.

Recording will be succinct (brief and precise) and clear but taking into account potential for evidential value.

Recording will meet statutory requirements, for example, children looked after or data protection.

The views of children and their carers regarding assessments, care plans and reviews will be clearly recorded on all relevant documentation. Where this is not possible, the reason will be recorded.

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Some Definitions

Threshold refers to a judgement about the seriousness of the child's need using Children Act definitions about actual or likely harm or impairment.

Priority Categories establishes the link between thresholds, that is, the seriousness, and the right to service provision.

Eligibility Criteria describe, for those people who are eligible for service provision, the type of service they can expect to receive. (Linked to the judgement about seriousness/priority).

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Deciding on thresholds

The Children Act threshold criteria/definitions are as follows:

S31 Child Protection:


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Linking Thresholds to Priority Categories

Devon Social Services has a generic framework for defining priorities, with four categories defined as follows:

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Eligibility for Services

To be eligible for a service commissioned specifically to meet the individual needs of a child/family: The child and or their parent / carer must normally fall into the 'Critical' or 'Substantial' categories.

There must be a good likelihood that a proposed service will meet the outcomes set out in a care plan.