In July 2021, this guidance was reviewed and updated to reflect current local processes.
- What Should Happen when Other Professionals or Partner Agencies Views Differ and it has Not Been Possible to Resolve this with Children's Services?
- What Happens When Disagreements Need to Be Resolved Quickly in Order to Safeguard and Promote a Child's Welfare?
This protocol is particular to Blackpool Children's Services and has been developed in accordance with the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Procedures Manual, Resolving Professional Disagreements.
This protocol covers all teams within Blackpool Council's Early Help Service and Children's Social Care Services; Fostering and Adoption, Residential, Supporting Children with Complex Needs, Supporting Our Children, Strengthening and Supporting Teams, Assessment and Support, Awaken and Families Together Intervention & Family Together Meetings and Safeguarding Quality Review Service.
Blackpool Children's Services is committed to developing and maintaining trusting restorative working relationships with other professionals and partner agencies in accordance with Blackpool Families Rock restorative practice principles.
It is inevitable that there will be occasions when another professionals or agencies views differ, this could be linked to thresholds, case management decisions or actions taken amongst other things.
Blackpool Children's Services would expect other professional and partner agencies to do all they can to resolve differences with the allocated social worker or Team Manager. This protocol is designed to clarify what actions are required where there is a professional disagreement that has not been be resolved via usual discussion.
2. What Should Happen when Other Professionals or Partner Agencies Views Differ and it has Not Been Possible to Resolve this with Children's Services?
If professionals are unable to reach agreement about the way forward regarding an individual issue then their disagreement must be escalated to the allocated social workers Team Manager within 5 working days in order that there can be further consideration of the issue of dispute and resolution can be sought. The allocated social workers Team Manager (first line manager) is required to contact the professional or agency raising the concern within 5 working days. A written record must be kept of concerns raised and resolution reached.
If the issue is not resolved following contact with the allocated social workers Team Manager then within 5 working days the matter must be referred up through Blackpool Children's Services structure to the Service Manager (second line manager) responsible for the service area or the Service Manager covering their absence without delay. The Service Manager is required to consider escalated concerns and contact the professional or agency raising the concern within 5 working days. A written record must be kept of concerns raised and resolution reached.
If the issue cannot be resolved with the Service Manager then consideration should be given to progressing the dispute to the Head of Service within 5 working days. The Head of Service is required to consider the escalated concern, alert the Director of Children's Services and contact the professional or agency raising the concern within 5 working days. A written record must be kept of concerns raised and resolution reached.
As outlined in the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Procedures where those disputes relate to the safeguarding needs of individual children, the Blackpool Safeguarding Children Partnership must be made aware of this. The purpose of such notification is to help monitor interagency safeguarding activity, and to identify issues which may benefit from Safeguarding Children Partnership Quality Assurance scrutiny. The agency which found it necessary to escalate an issue to such a high level in another organisation should advise the other organisation of their intention to do so and complete Stage 3 Monitoring Information Form, which can be accessed via the link above then return it to the Safeguarding Children Partnership.
3. What Happens When Disagreements Need to Be Resolved Quickly in Order to Safeguard and Promote a Child's Welfare?
Professional judgement must always be used and the safety and wellbeing of a child or young person is paramount. In circumstances where there is a delay in receiving a response at Stage 1 or 2 careful consideration should be given to involving managers at the next stage in the protocol. The aim of this contact is to let them know that there is a disagreement, that a speedy response is required to safeguard the child's welfare and that in the absence of such a response, they will be contacted to help progress the disagreement further.
Where there is a need for more immediate social work intervention to protect a child who is at immediate risk of serious and potentially life threatening Significant Harm, immediate action to reduce the risk of harm will be required by all relevant parties whilst the dispute is ongoing. In such circumstances, where Children's Services maintain a position of non-involvement or involvement at a level that is not deemed to promote and safeguard the child or young person's welfare then the professional or partner agency who is in disagreement with this position should inform the Safeguarding Children Partnership at the earliest opportunity.