Children's Social Work: Our Teams

First Response and MASH

First Response

The First Response Service operates from Riverside House and provides the 'front door' to CYPS. The First Response Service includes the following teams which work together to manage the various incoming requests for services:

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub

Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, or 'MASH', receives all new contacts about children, young people and their families. Contacts relate to vulnerable children who may benefit from early help services as well as children in need of social work support, protection and care.

Contact is received from a wide range of professionals from other statutory agencies, voluntary services, family members, members of the public and children and young people themselves. In the first instance MASH administrative officers receive, record and log all new contacts for consideration by social workers and other multi-agency professionals.

Where contacts concern children and families who do not require a social work service but may benefit from help to prevent concerns escalating or becoming more entrenched the MASH administrators, with the oversight of a social work manager, refer contacts straight to Early Help Services.

Where there is an indication that a child may be in need of support require the MASH refers onto the Duty & Assessment Team so that they can contact the child and his/her parents to undertake an assessment.

Where there is an indication that a child may have suffered, or be at risk of suffering, significant harm and is in need of protection or care, the MASH social workers work with co-located multi-agency professionals to screen all new safeguarding contacts and make informed decisions about what steps to take to safeguard and protect.

Decisions are taken within strict timescales based on professional judgements about the nature and level of the presenting concerns plus analysis of any existing data and intelligence held by each agency represented in the MASH. MASH practitioners are guided in their decision making by the agreed Local Safeguarding Children's Board thresholds guidance and safeguarding procedures. If further action is required, the MASH will convert the contact into a referral and pass it onto the Duty & Assessment to follow up.

In recognition of the prevalence of domestic abuse and the high volume of Police notifications that the MASH receives about this a daily Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Meeting has been created to provide a fast track screening and response service to ensure adult victims, who are usually but not exclusively women, and their children receive a prompt response to build safety plans and deal with alleged perpetrators in a considered and coordinated manner. The Multi-Agency Domestic Abuse Meeting also deals with domestic abuse in peer relationships between young people and other family based domestic abuse situations.

The MASH is an innovative way of strengthening local safeguarding practice to enable local safeguarding partners to share information and work together. By doing so the MASH ensures that operational teams have the fullest picture possible when they make contact with children and families to follow up on safeguarding concerns.