‘Making Every Contact Count’ – effective partnership working for vulnerable children and young people in Devon.

Children’s social care are asking that whenever an early years and childcare provider has regular contact with a child who is known to have an allocated social worker that professionals share the information with children’s social care team using the ‘making every contact count’ form which should be returned to: makeeverycontactcount@devon.gov.uk.

As early years and childcare providers are likely to be having contact several times a week, children’s social care are requesting that the form is completed every 6 weeks (half termly) starting from this half term 22nd February. However, if you have a concern about anything within the 6-week period you need to complete an additional form to highlight your concerns and return it to the central email inbox.

Devon has really strong partnerships between professionals working together to support the most vulnerable children and young people in Devon. These partnerships have enabled us to work together closely to maintain support to families through the challenges of the pandemic. We are looking to this effective partnership working to help with a current challenge in the children’s social care workforce.

The impact of Covid-19 and associated difficulties with the recruitment of permanent and agency social workers have led to staffing levels being particularly critically impacted in some children’s social care teams from late last year and as a result, a response plan has been agreed by the Children’s Services Leadership Team in Devon County Council to ensure all children and young people known to children’s social care are being seen and supported in line with their identified needs.

Agreement has been given to some flexibility from agreed practice standards relating to visiting vulnerable children in specific circumstances to ensure the most vulnerable children, young people and families are prioritised for face to face visiting by social workers, and to ensure that visiting in these cases is meaningful and enables planned work to progress in line with the child’s plan.

Children and young people will continue to be prioritised for ongoing support and visiting by a social worker where there are significant risks or complexities, for example including all children on a child protection plan, complex children in need, children in care not yet stable and secure in their placement and care leavers with more complex needs.

However, there are some children currently open to children’s social care where the level of risk and complexity is less, and children’s social care are looking for the support of other professionals to ensure these children are seen and their families being supported. This may include for example children in need approaching step down to early help and children in care in stable, long term placements. Many of these children, young people and families will have established relationships with early years and childcare providers who are already working with them.

The Partnership Response Groups have agreed to make every contact count for children and young people by improving how we capture all of the contacts professionals are having with identified children and young people, by using the ‘making every contact count’ form.