Everyone who works with children has a responsibility to share any information that has a bearing on a child's welfare as early as possible.
Practitioners working in adults' services should also share any information that has an impact on the wellbeing of a child - for example information about parents' capacity to provide safe and loving care.
Follow your organisation's child protection policies and procedures, which should set out how to share information and who with.
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When working in a busy environment, it's important to communicate with others effectively. This is particularly important if you are sharing information that affects a child's wellbeing.
Be clear about what you are sharing and why
For example, are you making a child protection referral which needs to be acted up on or are you letting people know for information only?
Follow up with written documentation
All verbal and face-to-face communication should be followed up with clear and comprehensive written documentation.
Use specific language and describe risk and vulnerability in detail
Different teams and agencies may use different terminology, so ensure you use clear language. If there is a form for information sharing, use it - it will help other people understand what information you are sharing or requesting and why.
Acknowledge information that's been shared with you
If possible, you should also let them know what's happened as a result of the information they've shared. When people feel their contribution is valued, they are more likely to communicate in future.
If you're working in a multi-disciplinary or multi-agency team, make sure you understand your and everyone else's role. Discuss how you will work together to support a child or family.
Always prioritise children's needs. Think about other teams working with a child and whether there is any information you can share that will help them provide support. It's particularly important to have a comprehensive handover whenever a child starts to work with a new practitioner or a different team.
Parents should receive the same messages from practitioners in different agencies. If several agencies are working with a family it might be helpful to identify a trusted key individual who will liaise with parents.
Support and challenge
It's vital for practitioners to build trusting working relationships with each other. Members of a multi-agency team should feel equally respected and listened to.
However, you should always discuss and explore any differences in opinion. This will help you gain a greater understanding of a child's situation and make informed decisions about the appropriate action to take.
If you have any concerns about the action being taken to protect a child, you must raise these following your organisational procedures.
Your organisation should provide you with regular and ongoing training and supervision so that you can reflect on and improve your practice.
For further help
If your organisation doesn't have a clear safeguarding procedure or you're not comfortable with the response to your report, you can contact our whistleblowing helpline.
You can also contact our helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by emailing email@example.com if you need to discuss anything relating to child protection with a trained professional.