Information and Advice for Practitioners
Image of Fife Child Protection Guidelines
‘Child Protection’ means protecting a child or young person from abuse or neglect. Abuse or neglect need not have taken place; it is sufficient for a risk assessment to have identified a likelihood or risk of significant harm from abuse or neglect. Equally, in instances where a child may have been abused or neglected but the risk of future abuse has not been identified, the child and their family may require support and recovery services but not a Child Protection Plan.
'Harm’ means the ill treatment or the impairment of the health or development of the child, including for example, impairment suffered as a result of seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. In this context, ‘development’ can mean physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development and ‘health’ can mean physical or mental health. Whether the harm suffered, or likely to be suffered, by a child or young person is ‘significant’ is determined by comparing the child’s health and development with what might be reasonably expected of a similar child. The reactions, perceptions, wishes and feelings of the child must always be taken into account and given weight in according with their age and level of understanding.
‘Risk is the likelihood or probability of a particular outcome given the presence of factors in a child or young person’s life. Risk is part and parcel of everyday life: a toddler learning to walk is likely to be at risk from some stumbles and scrapes but this does not mean the child should not be encouraged to walk. ‘Risks’ may be deemed acceptable; they may also be reduced by parents/carers or through the early intervention of universal services. At other times, a number of services may need to respond together as part of a co-ordinated intervention. Only where risks cause, or are likely to cause, significant harm to a child would a response under child protection be required. Where a child has already been exposed to actual harm, assessment will mean looking at the extent to which they are at risk of repeated harm, the seriousness of that harm and the potential effects of continued exposure over time.
The definition of threshold is a complex matter requiring thorough assessment of all relevant issues. It relies on high quality professional evaluation and judgement and a reflection on the relative significance of the harm in any specific circumstance. The distinction between ‘needs’ and ‘risks’ can, on occasion, cause some confusion.
If you are concerned that a child or young person may have been harmed or may be at risk of harm, it is essential that you share your concerns. You do not need to have extensive detailed information to be certain that a child has been abused or neglected. Concerns should be passed on to allow child protection professionals to make the judgement about the risk(s) present for the child or young person.
Fife CPC has produced Inter Agency Child Protection Guidance to inform and support practitioners from all agencies in Fife who may as part of their normal jobs or who may in the course of their duties identify children at risk. Information within this guidance will help staff recognise and respond appropriately to ensure children receive the right support. This guidance provides a clear framework for action for all those who are or may be involved with the protection of children and young people and promotes inter-agency practice to protect children and young people.
This Inter Agency Child Protection Guidance is designed to complement operational procedures that are held within each individual agency and to which staff must refer when responding to child protection concerns. You can download a copy of the current guidance at the link below.
If you consider a child(ren) or young person to be in IMMEDIATE danger, DO NOT wait, call Fife Police 999 or Tel: 0845 600 5702.
All cases of suspected or alleged child abuse should be notified to the Social Work Service (Tel No 01383 441177 or Emergency Out of Hours on 08451 550099) unless the child is in immediate danger then call the Police.
The Child Concern Notification Form for use by all agencies in Fife has been developed for the purpose of recording details of concerns. The form should be completed wherever possible and submitted in accordance with the accompanying guidance.
If you have any suspicion whatsoever that a child is in ‘immediate danger’ and you tick the ‘yes’ box on the Child Concern Notification Form then you should not pause to complete this form. You should immediately contact the police advising them of your concern, in order that urgent action can be taken to assess and address your immediate concern. The form can be completed later and sent to Social Work Services Contact Centre at SW.Contactctr@fife.gov.uk
If you tick the ‘no’ box and have a concern that a child could have suffered, is suffering, is at risk of harm or abuse, or is in need of care and protection, but is not in immediate danger, then complete what you can but do not hesitate to send the form; it is more important that concerns are acted on quickly with some gaps in information than failing to act due to concerns being passed on too late. Most of the boxes are self explanatory; however you can contact your line manager or child protection lead or the Social Work Services Contact Centre on 01383 441177 if you would like clarification on how to fill this in.
The WithScotland website springs from the convergence of The Multi-Agency Resource Service (MARS) and the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network (SCCPN).
WithScotland support child protection practice, policy and research and can help source different kinds of information. Agencies, councils or organisations can approach them for help with specific cases or situations, and they will help broker their access to relevant knowledge and expertise. You can approach them to access support in implementing findings from evaluations and inspections and to source national and international research.