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MASH Enquiries


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Consultation Service
  3. Consent
  4. Submitting a MASH Enquiry
  5. RAG Ratings and Response Time
  6. Outcome of Enquiry

    Further Information

    Amendments to this Chapter


1. Introduction

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is the first point of contact for any person or agency who has concerns about the safety and/or wellbeing of a child. Where appropriate, the MASH gathers information from a range of partner agencies relevant to each individual case, assesses the information returned to determine the level of actual or potential risk/harm and recommends appropriate action to safeguard the child and/or promote his/her welfare.

All professionals must submit a MASH Enquiry if they have concerns that a child or young person:

  • Has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm;
  • Has a disability or developmental need which would be likely to be further impaired without the provision of services;
  • Has developmental needs which would likely be impaired without provision of statutory services.

Most issues concerning children will be appropriately managed by a single agency, connecting up with other agencies without recourse to MASH.

Children and young people, parents, other family members and the wider community can make a MASH enquiry whenever they are concerned.

If a professional in a statutory agency has concerns that a child or young person may be at risk of Significant Harm, they should first discuss the information with their line manager or designated child protection officer for their agency. If the designated person is not immediately available, there should be no delay, as the safety of the child or young person is paramount, and the MASH team (or the Police in an emergency) should be contacted.

The MASH office is contactable by telephone (01534 519000) between 8.30 and 17.00 Monday to Thursday and between 8.30 and 16.30 on Friday. Outside these hours enquirers will be asked to contact the Police on 612612 where it will be decided if the out of hour’s social work service needs to be accessed.


2. Consultation Service

The MASH offers a consultation service for professionals who may be unclear on what action they should take or who are in need of support/guidance to make the most informed decision. This advice may include information about a range of services including the voluntary and community sector; the child may need help and protection to be provided by Children’s Social Care, or professionals may require guidance about submitting a MASH Enquiry including how to involve parents.

Professionals contacting the MASH cannot remain anonymous when seeking advice and any children discussed should be identified to ensure effective advice is provided

Further information will be available regarding consultation with MASH and will be placed on the Safeguarding Partnership Board Website.


3. Consent

Those persons with Parental Responsibility for the child/young person should be informed that a MASH Enquiry is being submitted, unless doing so would increase the risk to the child/young person. Their consent should be sought where appropriate and recorded on the Enquiry form, remembering that child protection concerns override the need for consent where it is not obtainable. Where a professional decides not to seek parental consent, this decision must be recorded in the child or young person’s file with their justification, date and signature. Fair processing: by law, if you are sharing someone’s information you need to tell them how this information will be used; the Information for Parents and Carers leaflet should be given to the family at the point of discussing the Enquiry.

If the decision is made not to submit an Enquiry, the professional and line manager or designated child protection officer for the agency should plan how the agency will continue to support and monitor the child or young person and family if appropriate. This should include consideration of whether an Early Help Assessment (see Early Help Procedure) would be helpful in identifying the child and family’s needs.

In high risk cases where there may be a resultant Police investigation, the decision of when to inform those with parental responsibility about the concerns/MASH Enquiry may be one of the decisions made by those taking part in the Strategy Discussion or Meeting.

The Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs provides guidance about the criteria for submitting an Enquiry. If you are in doubt please contact the MASH for guidance.

The MASH multi-agency Enquiry form can be accessed by clicking here.

Fair processing: by law, if you are sharing someone’s information you need to tell them how this information will be used. This can be done using a Fair Processing notice. The MASH parent/carer leaflet, includes a fair processing notice. See Safeguarding.je.


4. Submitting a MASH Enquiry

Email information from agencies must be transferred using secure, work based e-mail not from home computers unless there is agreed remote access.

A MASH Enquiry should always identify clearly whether there are concerns about abuse or neglect; the foundation of those concerns; and whether the child or young person may need urgent action to keep them safe from harm. When considering whether emergency action is required to protect a child or young person, professionals must also consider whether action is required to protect other children or young people in the same household, in the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere. This information must also be included in the Enquiry. The Enquirer will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a member of the MASH team.

The MASH multi-agency enquiry form will ask for information about the following:

  • Full names (including aliases/known as and spelling variations), date of birth and gender of all child/ren or young people in the household; Details of siblings or other relevant children and/or young people;
  • Family address and (where relevant) school / nursery attended;
  • Identity of those with Parental Responsibility and any other significant adults who may be involved in caring for the child such as grandparents residing with or in close contact;
  • Names, gender and date of birth of all household members, if available;
  • Where available, the child or young person’s GP, school, Health Visitor etc;
  • Ethnicity as determined by the individual or family, first language and religion of children and parents;
  • Any special needs of children or parents;
  • The current location of the child;
  • Your concerns and risks to the child both actual and potential;
  • Your concerns for the parents/carers abilities to meet the children/s needs and/or keep them safe?
  • What your concerns are based on? (i.e. your own observation; assessment or information from others, behaviour and presentation of the child or other family members);
  • The support that has already been offered;
  • The wishes and feelings of the child or young person’s wishes and feelings?

Other information may be relevant and some information may not be available at the time of making the enquiry. However, there should not be a delay in order to collect information if the delay may place the child or young person at risk of significant harm.

What happens to your enquiry

When MASH receives an Enquiry, the team will check whether the child or young person is known to Children’s Service and whether they currently have an allocated social worker. The MASH team will only consider processing Enquiries for children who are not currently open or have not been recently closed to the Children’s Service: if the child’s case is already open to Children’s Service, the Enquiry information will be passed directly to their allocated social worker with no further action from the MASH team; if the child is known to Children’s Service with case closure within the last three months, the Enquiry information will be shared with the last allocated Team Manager with no further action from the MASH team.

If there is no current intervention from Children’s Service and the Enquiry meets threshold to be processed within MASH (see Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs Procedure), the Decision Maker will task partner agencies for any relevant, chronological information they hold about the child/young person and associated adults. The Decision Maker will apply a RAG rating (see Section 5, RAG Ratings and Response Time) to the Enquiry which will determine the level of concern and the timeframe in which agencies are required to return their information. The RAG rating may be changed as new information is received.

Multi-Agency Research Standards and Guidance for Partners

All physical partners in MASH have produced their own tasking forms that they send out to their own agencies. It is the responsibility of the MASH Agency representative to gather this information and support the professional to adhere to the following guidelines:

The following is practice guidance for conducting this research:

Overarching principles:

  • Information should be evidenced based and focus on the needs and risks to the child;
  • Be cautious about over focussing on the parent;
  • The information must be recorded in a non judgemental and anti oppressive way;
  • Avoid the use of jargon and abbreviations;
  • Be clear in what you are saying – “Say it how it is not how it isn’t”;
  • Be explicit about the level and nature of the harm that the child has or is likely to suffer e.g. what is the nature, intensity and duration of this harm? Is it significant?
  • Identify and analyse risk to the child;
  • Be outcome focussed – consider, review and record the impact of your work on improving the outcomes for children. What do we want to achieve for this child and how will we achieve this?
  • The information to be provided in a timely manner in line with the RAG rating.

Areas to Cover:

  • Child’s views about their situation (e.g. home life, school life);
  • Child’s feelings about and responses to recent incidents;
  • Comment on the child’s every day experiences;
  • Agencies to explain the reason for their involvement and the risks they have been dealing with;
  • Comment on the actions and interventions taken by the agency and whether this has or has not made a difference to the life of the child.


5. RAG Ratings and Response Time

RED Rating – applied to Enquiries where there appears to be urgent or high risk safeguarding concerns which may require immediate action to ensure the child/young person’s safety. Partner agencies are required to return their information within four hours of being tasked. Where an immediate response is required, the Police Public Protection Unit (PPU) and relevant Children’s Service Team will be advised immediately that a ‘Red’ Enquiry has been received. The details of the Enquiry will be shared and the MASH research will be collated simultaneously to any active Police/Children’s Service response. Any subsequent information gathered will be shared within the four hour period.

AMBER Rating – applied to Enquiries where there are significant concerns for a child/young person’s welfare but immediate action is not required to ensure their safety. Partner agencies are required to return their information within one working day.

GREEN Rating – applied to Enquiries where there are no significant concerns for a child/young person’s welfare but it is recognised that they may require the intervention of services, e.g. children with complex needs who require additional respite. Partner agencies are required to return their information within three working days.

The MASH Decision Maker will review the multi-agency information to determine the most proportionate response to the child or young person’s needs. They will consider how the information fits with the Multi-agency Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs Guidance.

The MASH Decision Maker uses the collected information to decide the best response to the child or young person’s needs. They will look at how the information fits with the Multi-agency Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs Guidance:

In either of these cases, the child or young person must be seen by a social worker as soon as possible; the child or young person’s needs and safety remain paramount at all times.

  • If the MASH Decision Maker concludes that the child or young person’s needs could be met by services from other agencies or by other professionals already involved with the family, e.g. through school or health (universal and early help services - see Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs Procedure), the Enquiry will be signposted back to the Enquirer or to other agencies within the community. It may be recommended to the Enquirer that an Early Help Assessment be completed with the family; the Early Help Co-Ordinator will be informed of any children for whom an Early Help Assessment has been suggested. The Enquirer and persons with Parental Responsibility for the child will be informed of the outcome of the Enquiry.
If an email enquirer has not received an automated response immediately they should contact MASH again. Receipt of enquiries from the public that are made by telephone will be confirmed by e-mail or telephone as appropriate.


6. Outcome of Enquiry

The enquirer will receive a confirmation of receipt of the enquiry and feedback about the initial decision within 24 hours.

Enquiries may lead to:

  • Referral to the Children’s Services for further assessment;
  • Signpost to another agency to provide an appropriate service;
  • Request the enquirer considers whether an Early Help Assessment is appropriate;
  • No further services involvement at this stage with the enquiring agency continuing to monitor and offer services as appropriate;
  • Confirmation that universal service provision is sufficient.

The Enquirer will receive feedback on the outcome of their Enquiry by email, telephone or letter as appropriate. If there is disagreement about the decision of MASH please refer to the Escalation Policy and Resolution Pathway.

Further Information

Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs Procedure

Amendments to this Chapter

In March 2017, this chapter was extensively updated and should be read throughout.

End.