This chapter should be read in conjunction with:
- Definition of MASH Enquiries and Referrals
- MASH Enquiries/Triage
- Multi-Agency Information Share/Referrals
- MASH Enquiry Outcomes
1. Definition of MASH Enquiries and Referrals
A MASH Enquiry is defined as an enquiry requesting information and/or expressing concerns about the welfare of a child or young person.
A Referral is defined as the acceptance by Children, Education and Families of a request for services at or above Level 3 of the Children in Need Threshold Criteria (See Oxfordshire Threshold of Needs Matrix). This will usually result in a Child and Family Assessment.
MASH Enquiries are risk assessed within one working day and given a RAG rating:
- Red: 4 hours;
- Amber: One working day;
- Green: Three working days.
The RAG rating is the time in which a final decision regarding the outcome of the MASH Enquiry should be made.
3. MASH Enquiries/Triage
MASH Enquiries/ may be made directly from agencies/members, children, parents, relatives and other interested members of the public.
Where the MASH is contacted about a child who may be a Child in Need, it will be necessary to triage the information to establish what action to take.
The objective of the triage is to establish whether the child appears to meet Level 3 or above of the Oxfordshire Threshold of Need Matrix.
The person receiving the MASH Enquiry should establish personal details such as the household composition, the location of the child and the relationship between the referrer and the child. Enquiries from both professionals and the public must be treated with equal importance. All referrers should have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.
Referrers should be asked specifically if they hold any information about difficulties being experienced by the family/household due to domestic abuse, mental illness, substance misuse, and/or learning difficulties
The possible outcomes at this stage are:
- That the child's needs appear to be at Level 1 or Level 2 of the Threshold of Need Matrix; in which case the child or family can be re-directed to Early Intervention, another agency, provided with information or advice or no further action is taken;
- That the child's needs appear to be at Level 3 or Level 4 of the Threshold of Need Matrix; in which case a multi-agency information share will be necessary, see Section 4, Multi-Agency Information Share/Referrals.
If the outcome is to referred to another agency or NAF at this stage, the referrer and family should be informed of the outcome and the reason for the decision clearly recorded on Framework I and authorised by a manager.
4. Multi-Agency Information Share/Referrals
Once it has been established that a child appears to meet the Threshold of Need Matrix at Level 3 or Level 4, the MASH social worker will initiate a multi-agency information share.
This process should establish:
- The nature of the concern;
- How and why it has arisen;
- What the child's needs appear to be;
- Whether any protective factors or support systems relating to the child should be considered;
- Whether the concern involves Significant Harm;
- Whether there is any need for urgent action to protect the child or any children in the household.
This process will involve:
- Discussion with the referrer, ensuring that the parent(s) and child(ren) have been notified by the referrer that a referral has been made - or if not whether they should be so informed;
- Confirming with the parent(s) and child(ren) that the referral has been made and seeking their consent to information sharing with other agencies;
- If there are any child protection concerns, consideration of any existing;
- Involving and consulting other agencies.
Personal information about non-professional referrers should not be disclosed to the parents or other agencies without the referrer's consent.
Seeking consent: The parents' and, if of sufficient understanding, the child's consent should be sought before discussing a referral with other agencies unless this may place the child at risk of Significant Harm, in which case the manager should authorise the discussion of the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or consent. The authorisation should be recorded with reasons. See Information Sharing Protocol in the Oxfordshire SCB Procedures Manual.
5. MASH Enquiry Outcomes
Following an information share, MASH Enquiry outcomes, which must be authorised by the manager, may be:
- That the child does not appear to meet Level 3 or above of the Oxfordshire Threshold of Need Matrix but it may be appropriate to offer advice, information and/or to Early Intervention or another agency with No Further Action;
- That the child's needs appear to meet Level 3 or above of the Threshold of Need Matrix in which case the case will be transferred to the local Children and Families Assessment Team to complete a Child and Family Assessment.
The referrer and family should be notified of the outcome and the rationale for the decision clearly recorded on Frameworki and authorised by a manager.