Child protection investigations
Concerns for a child's safety or welfare
This information is about what might happen when there are concerns for the safety of your child. These are sometimes called child protection investigations or enquiries.
Not all of the questions you may have will be answered here so if there is anything you do not understand or want to talk more about the social worker will be able to help you.
What is a child protection enquiry?
When we are told about a concern for a child it is called a referral.
Gateshead Council's Care, Wellbeing and Learning Service has a legal duty to look into referrals where there may be concerns regarding a child's welfare or safety. This is called a child protection enquiry
Referrals about a child might be received from:
- Neighbours, friends and relatives
- Professionals (such as teachers, doctors, the police);
- The child or the child's parents or carers.
You will always be told who has made the referral unless they are a member of the public, a family member, or a child and they do not want you to know.
A child protection enquiry has to be started if someone believes your child may be being harmed or is at risk of being harmed.
The enquiry will always be carried out by at least one qualified social worker who will carry proof of their identity, and will show it to you when you first meet them. Sometimes a police officer will be involved as well if the concern is that your child has been abused or a crime has occurred.
The social worker will talk to all professionals who know your child and family. This may include teachers, health visitors, doctors or any other professional involved with your family.
A social worker will talk to you about what you believe to have happened and why there are concerns about your child. You will be asked your views about what has happened or been said. During the enquiry you may be asked the same question by several different people and at different times. This is to try and get a clear picture about what might have happened and it does not necessarily mean that people do not believe what you have told them.
If your child is old enough the social worker will want to talk to them and any other children living in the home to hear their views and feelings about what has happened. If a crime is thought to have been committed the police may want to record the interview using a video.
If your child is believed to have an injury or to have been sexually abused, the social worker and the police may want a medical examination to take place. This will help find out how your child was hurt and make sure they receive medical help.
It is important for you to know that we will always try to undertake our enquires with your cooperation and consent, however if this isn't possible we may need to apply to Court to enable us to do so.
What happens after a child protection enquiry?
The law says that those working with families must try to help children and their families stay together wherever possible. However, the law also says that children must be kept safe.
It may be that there is no cause for concern. When this happens we will let you know and no further action will be taken. Sometimes we may have found some things which you need help with and we will offer to help you or refer you to someone else who can help.
If there is still some concern in most circumstances parents are helped to look after their child safely and the child remains at home.
Very occasionally the risk of a child being hurt is too great and it may be necessary to find somewhere else for the child to stay, if possible with another family member. Alternatively, the person who has or might hurt the child could be asked to leave the family home. We would normally want to do this with your agreement but there might be times when we would need to apply to the Court for a legal order which would allow us to remove the child to live in a safe place such as a foster carer or a residential home. If this is likely you will be advised to contact a solicitor to advise you.
If a child is thought to have been harmed but can stay at home it is likely that a child protection conference will be called to plan how to protect the child from any further harm.
If at any stage you are dissatisfied about how the enquiry has been carried out and this cannot be sorted out to your satisfaction in discussion with the Team Manager or Service Manager, then you are able to make a complaint.
Safeguarding Children Unit
0191 433 8031
Fax: 0191 433 3950