Glossary of terms: children’s safeguarding

Terminology in the area of safeguarding children can be complex and changes as services are reshaped. This glossary sets out what is meant by some key terms.

Abuse and neglect
These are forms of maltreatment of a child.

Assessment
The process of defining an individual person’s needs, making a judgement about the risk of harm, deciding on the help that they require and determining their eligibility for services.

Cause for concern
A reason to be worried about the health, development or welfare of a child and recognising that this cause may be preventable by seeking services for the child and/or their family.

Child
Anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday.

Child & Family Meetings
Child & Family Meetings are arranged to provide a coordinated approach across all disciplines and agencies in order to meet the needs of children, young people and their families. They can be arranged by any practitioner working with children and their families. Child and Family Meetings are therefore not dependent on there being an assessment of need by Children’s Social Care. However they can arise out of that assessment of need.

Child protection
Process of protecting individual children identified as having suffered, or at risk of, significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect.

Child Protection conference
The child protection conference is arranged to enable those Practitioners most involved with the child and family, and the family themselves, to assess all relevant information, and plan how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child who has suffered, or is at risk of, significant harm.

Child protection enquiry
This is carried out, under section 47 Children Act 1989, when there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered, or is at risk of, significant harm. The enquiry is carried out by Children’s Social Care although both the Police and the NSPCC have powers to carry out such enquiries.

Child protection meeting
A meeting arranged by Children’s Social Care to consider how best to protect a child from harm.

Child Protection Plan
A detailed inter-agency plan setting out what must be done to protect a child from further harm, to promote the child’s health and development and if it is in the best interests of the child, to support the family to promote the child’s welfare.

Children’s Social Care
The service function in Manchester City Council that carries out what were previously known as social services for children. Children’s Social Care has lead responsibility for child protection enquiries and is part of the Children and Families Directorate.

Confidentiality
Confidentiality is the process of handling information that is identified as being of a personal and sensitive nature.

Consent
Agreement given by a person who is competent to do so.

Consultation
An opportunity to seek advice and/or information with a view to guiding practice.

Core Assessment
An in-depth assessment which addresses the central or most important aspects of the needs of the child and the capacity of his or her parents or caregivers to respond appropriately to these needs within the wider family and community context. It is to be undertaken where circumstances are complex and should be completed within a maximum of 35 working days.

Core Group
A ‘Team Around the Child’, that is brought together once a child becomes subject to a child protection plan. Members of the core group are parents/carers and practitioners who are working with the child and/or family. They should meet on a regular basis. The child may also be a member subject to age and level of understanding. A judgement has to be made about whether it is in the best interests of the child to attend the core group meetings.

Disability
There are several definitions of disability. Some people are classified as ‘disabled’ for one purpose but not for another and this may affect access to services or benefits.

Disability is sometimes seen as belonging to the individual, so one definition is ‘an aspect of the functioning of a person’s body that has the effect of limiting their inclusion in society’. However it can also be seen as belonging to society in which case a definition is ‘a disadvantage or restriction on doing things that is the fault of society and the way it is run’.

Domestic Violence &  Abuse
Any violence or abuse between current or former partners in an intimate relationship, wherever and whenever violence occurs. The violence or abuse may include physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse.

Fraser Competence
This describes factors that can be used to help judge if a child is able to understand a question, the implications of what is being asked and is able to express an opinion or consent. Each child and young person is an individual and their “Fraser competence” would depend on factors including their age, development and capacity to demonstrate an understanding of the issue under discussion. Previously referred to as Gillick Competent.

Fraser Guidelines
The Fraser guidelines give specific guidance on providing advice and treatment to young people under 16 years of age. Refer to the NSPCC website  www.nspcc.org.uk or the CQC website www.cqc.org.uk

Help & Support Manchester (HSM)
HSM is the new MCC service directory aimed at service users such as children, young people, their families, and those who work with them.

It provides information on a range of national and local organisations, together with their contact details and how to access them. The Directory also includes voluntary organisations and groups and other leisure activities.

Initial Assessment
An initial assessment of the developmental needs of each child referred to Children’s Social Care with a request for services to be provided. This should be undertaken within a maximum of seven working days of the initial referral, but could be very brief depending on the child’s circumstances.

Inter Agency
The working together of those different agencies who provide services for children and their families.

Key worker
The key worker is always a social worker from Children’s Social Care and has specific duties in respect of implementing the Child Protection Plan. Each child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan should have a named key worker.

Lead Professional
Appointing a lead professional is central to the effective front-line delivery of services for children with a range of additional needs. They take the lead to coordinate provision and act as a single point of contact for a child and their family when a range of services are involved and an integrated response is required.

When the role is delivered in the context of multi-agency assessment and planning, underpinned by the Levels of Need Framework or relevant specialist assessments, it ensures that professional involvement is rationalised, coordinated and achieves the intended outcomes.

Level of Needs Framework (LNF)
The LNF provides a common approach to identifying and describing levels of need for children and young people. It has been developed for use by practitioners to support joint working and communication between all agencies. It will support earlier intervention by providing a tool to identify needs at the earliest opportunity and a consistent approach to coordinating services.

Local Authority
In Manchester the local authority is Manchester City Council and as such discharges the responsibilities of a Children’s Services Authority as set out in section 63 of the Children Act 2004.

Multi Agency
A more general term to describe the involvement of different agencies. For example, MSAB and MSCB are multi-agency statutory arrangements.

Parent
This is a generic term that may include birth parents, step-parents and carers of children.

Parental Responsibility (PR)
A legal term from section 3(1) of the Children Act 1989, meaning ‘all the rights, duties, powers and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.’

Always held by the mother and also by a father where the parents are married. An unmarried father also acquires parental responsibility if he becomes registered as the child’s father (for a child born after 01/12/03 ), or through a legal order.

Parental responsibility is only removed from parents completely at the point if the child is adopted. PR is also acquired by the local authority if the court commits child to its care.

Partnership
The practice of working together in such a way that there is equality of respect for each participant’s views with a commitment to openness and building on the strengths of everyone involved. Partnership does not mean that everyone agrees all of the time but that people have a commitment to find a way to do what is best for children.

Practitioner
A person who practices a specific profession or occupation and in doing so delivers a service to people.

Referral
A request for help from and/or for an individual from a public body.

Risk
The probability of something (e.g. harm to a child) happening. The harsher the damage caused by it happening and the more likely the event, the greater the overall risk.

S47 enquiry
See Child protection enquiry

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care which is undertaken so as to enable children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.

Significant Harm
The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of significant harm as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children. Whether harm or likely harm suffered by a child is significant is determined by comparing the child’s health or development with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child.

Signposting
Signposting is a method of helping people find the services that they want without necessarily making a referral for them. It offers a better opportunity for users of services to make decisions about the range of services that they can access and which one is right for them.

Wellbeing
Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 requires local authorities and other specified agencies to co-operate with a view to improving the well being of children in relation to the 5 outcomes first set out in “Every Child Matters”.

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