No.4: Making a request for support (MASH enquiry)
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Before you make a request for support
Unless the concern you have is an urgent safeguarding issue (see next section) there are several things that you should do before making a request for support:
- With your Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and colleagues, use the Levels of Need tool to identify the right level of support for the child and family. Consider the risk and impact this will have on the child and how you can address this:
- have all other avenues for help and support been tried?
- early help – which agencies aren’t involved that should be?
- early help colleagues can help you to identify which additional local agencies may offer appropriate support with starting the early help process and also accessing targeted early help support.
- If you are still unsure whether to submit a request for support or want to discuss your request with a social worker phone the MASH consultation line on 0345 155 1071.
- Speak to the parents (or an adult with parental responsibility) for the child for whom you have concerns, unless:
- it will put the child further at risk of harm
- it may lead to the destruction or contamination of evidence
- where there is a concern around familial sexual abuse (also relates to non-family members residing in the same home)
- where there is Suspected Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII)
- where domestic violence is a concern, you may also need to consider the safety of the victim as well as the child if you were to contact parents.
If none of the above apply, discuss with the parent that you are considering making a request for support. See if you can identify from this conversation whether there are local solutions which can be put in place which will negate the need for a request to be made. If you still feel that social care intervention is required, inform the parent that a request for support will be made, hopefully they will give their consent for this. Parents may be difficult to contact, may not want you to complete a request for support form or may be concerned that the discussion will have a negative impact on a relationship you have built with them, you should still attempt to have a conversation with them; gaining their consent for the enquiry is preferable.
An urgent concern can take many forms (for example, recent non-accidental injury by a parent or a disclosure of familial sexual abuse) but to keep it simple, urgent is when you believe the child to be at imminent risk of significant harm.
If you believe that the concerns require an urgent response, for example, because the child is in immediate danger, please telephone the MASH on 0345 155 1071. You will also be required to follow this up promptly by submitting a request for support form.
Filling in the request for support form
The request for support form can be accessed from the Devon Children and Families Partnership website. Things to consider:
- The form should take no longer than 20-30 minutes to complete. Your responses will be cleared if you are inactive for more than two hours. To stop this you can use the ‘Save & Return’ function to retrieve your form using a mobile number or by creating a password.
- Include as many details as you know regarding family members and who is in the home and any professionals who are already involved with the family.
- Make sure that your enquiry is Significant, Relevant and Concise, SRC for short. Lengthy, non-pertinent information may obscure the real concerns.
- Provide SRC evidence as to why you have a concern.
- Provide SRC information of work already done or tried; evidence how you have held the risk and what hasn’t changed.
- Include a little background, don’t assume that the social worker reading the enquiry knows this family just because they may be known to Children’s Social Care.
- Additional, supporting documents (e.g. chronologies, transcripts of conversations) should not be sent at this stage, but at the end of the form you do have the option to upload any other documents to support your request.
- Most importantly, this enquiry is for the benefit of the child, include their views and wishes (if any) and always note what you consider to be the impact on the child of what your concerns are.
Before you submit your request, you will have an option to download a pdf copy and opt for a copy of the form to be emailed to you. For security and confidentiality reasons you should only enter your work email address – a shared email address should not be entered.
After submitting a request for support form
After submitting your request you will be given a reference number – please note this and quote the number and the child’s name when contacting the MASH Team. You will also be able to download a pdf version of your request for your records and opt to have a copy emailed to you.
You will be informed by letter or email as to the outcome of your enquiry. If you do not receive an outcome decision within 3 days, or if your concerns are escalated for any reason, contact the MASH direct for the outcome decision or to add your concerns to an open enquiry.
Designated Safeguarding Leads/setting must retain a copy of the request in the pupils safeguarding files along with the reference number and if a MASH consultation was made, a summary of this conversation and who they spoke to.
If there is disagreement on the decision reached by the MASH, it is important that you speak with the MASH Team Manager to discuss your concerns. The MASH welcomes the opportunity for discussions on decisions and will work with you on the next steps. The DCFP have a formal escalation route should this not work, which can be found here: Case Resolution Protocol and Escalation Procedures – Devon Children and Families Partnership (dcfp.org.uk).
MASH Request for Support Form: DCC – Request for support (outsystemsenterprise.com)
MASH consultation line: 0345 155 1071
MASH workers: 01392 383000 (state the name of the person you wish to speak to)
Education in MASH researchers: 01392 388297 or 01392 388303
Devon Education Services: 01392 287223
MASH email: email@example.com
Devon Children and Families Partnership
Early Help information and downloads: Early Help – Devon Children and Families Partnership (dcfp.org.uk)
Levels of Need Tool: Levels of Need – Devon Children and Families Partnership (dcfp.org.uk)
MASH information and downloads: https://new.devon.gov.uk/educationandfamilies/child-protection/making-a-mash-enquiry