All agencies need to work together to ensure that the relevant information is firstly gathered and then shared where appropriate.
Depending on the severity of the concern there are multiple agencies that could potentially be involved in the care of a child and any investigation. In the first instance it may be childcare staff, a school nurse, education welfare officer or health visitors that detect signs of abuse or neglect in a child. They have a duty of care to report any such findings to social services who are there to offer support to the child and the setting. Social services have the power to investigate the setting, carers and children and may conduct interviews as part of their investigation. This is an example of when they may have to get information held on the child from other agencies, i.e. the shared information sheets and accident forms. Practitioners may be contacted and asked to provide information during an investigation or alternatively asked to provide a service to a child or family member.
Once they have conducted an investigation they can decide what, if any, action is required to safeguard the child in questions welfare. Depending on the severity of the concern there are multiple agencies that could potentially be involved in the care of a child and any investigation. The CPIU or Child Protection Investigation Unit is run by the police who may decide to conduct a criminal investigation if they decide a criminal offence has been committed. They have the power to make arrests and remove a child from harm if they are deemed to be at risk by a perpetrator. They work closely with social services so it is vital that information be shared between agencies.Continuity of care is crucial to a child’s well being, especially if they are going through a transition such as changes in the home – moving, birth of new siblings, parents separating or a death in the family.
All children react differently to these events and others and adults need to be aware of the impact they can have on a child. Ideally parents will be upfront about changes the child is experiencing and work with practitioners to make sure that the child is supported both at home and in their childcare/learning environment. If outside help is required by a trained professional then all adults need to work closely together to make sure the child is cared for as appropriate and made to feel happy and secure.