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1.7 Multi-Agency Working


  1. Principles of Multi-Agency Working
  2. Context
  3. Multi-Agency Plans
  4. Multi-Agency Reviews

1. Principles of Multi-Agency Working

The procedures in this manual are intended to provide guidance to practitioners at all levels, working in the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors, who work with and provide services to children and their families. These services may be supportive, preventative and protective responses to a child's needs.

No single agency has the sole responsibility for the provision of services to children in need. It is shared responsibility across all agencies. Some needs may be met by universal services, some will be met by single agency services whilst others require agencies to successfully work together to ensure the whole needs of the child and the family are met.

The welfare of children is promoted and safeguarded by enabling and supporting a range of specialist and community-based resources across the different sectors of service provision. Within agencies, a multi-disciplinary approach to meeting the needs of children and their families should, whenever possible, be considered. Where more than one agency is involved, a multi-agency approach to family support gives better outcomes for families and communities.

2. Context

There has been a range of guidance and legislation in recent years relating to the provision of services to children and their families.

The legislation - in particular the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002 - sets out a clear requirement for all agencies concerned with children to work together effectively.

Whenever there is continuing involvement with the child, multi-agency working remains vital, even if one agency is taking the lead role. All agencies have a part to play in achieving the best outcomes for the child, and it is vital that that involvement and attendance at meetings is maintained, however the child is assessed in accordance with the Responding to Need Guidance and Levels of Need Framework, and whether or not an Early Help Assessment is being carried out, see Early Help Assessment Procedure.

3. Multi-Agency Plans

Meetings to plan multi-agency services to children and their families should include all services involved and should consider any assessment already undertaken and whether there is a need for further areas to be assessed.

This will enable a multi-agency plan to be completed and agreed.

This may be at a Team Around the Child Meeting (in the context of the Early Help) or a Child in Need Planning Meeting (where Children's Social Care is involved). In all cases, those practitioners from different agencies attending the meeting should see themselves as part of a team who come together to provide support to a child. The child and parents are also part of the team. Other family members may also be part of the team.

The multi-agency plan should always be in writing and all involved including the child (depending on age and level of understanding) and the parents/carers/significant family members should have a copy.

The multi-agency plan should identify the lead professional to coordinate the plan and act as a single point of contact for the child and family members. However, it is important to note that the lead professional role is about coordinating support, and not doing it all. All agencies involved will continue to be responsible for their own identified actions within the plan.

All agencies working with children and families, including education, social care, schools, health, youth services, early years and private and voluntary staff, have a responsibility to play their part.

Each agency will be required to contribute to any assessment undertaken so that the child's total needs are considered. The findings and recommendations of any assessment undertaken should be shared with all professionals involved.

Each agency involved should notify the lead professional if they are having difficulty doing what they said they would do and inform the lead professional if they become aware of significant issues or life events for the child.

4. Multi-Agency Reviews

Multi-agency plans should be reviewed regularly at meetings.

One of the biggest practical difficulties in multi-agency working is getting busy practitioners all together at the same time, and making sure that the time is also suitable for the child and their family. Wherever possible the date and time should be fixed at the meeting while everyone is together.The frequency of meetings will depend on the needs and circumstances of the child.