What Kent professionals do to safeguard children
Kent County Council, through its Children's Social Services Department, has a legal duty to make enquiries whenever a child or young person under the age of 18 is suspected of suffering significant harm. The same duty applies when there is a risk of significant harm.
Significant harm can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or physical neglect. Information that a child may be suffering, or at risk of suffering, abuse or neglect can come from a number of sources. Practitioners in social services, education, health, the police, or other services, have a professional responsibility to refer concerns to either Social Services or the police. Members of the public may refer their concerns to various agencies which are then forwarded to Social Services or directly to Social Services or police. Abused children may also make direct disclosures to professionals or to friends or trusted adults.
When Social Services receives information about possible child abuse, enquiries will be made with the police, health, education and other relevant services to gather information that will help in deciding what action should be taken. Usually, a visit will be made to the child and his or her parents or carers to discuss the concerns and to gather more information. This will help decide whether it is necessary to take action to protect the child or whether further information and assessment is needed.
The procedures for responding to allegations of abuse or neglect are contained in the Kent & Medway Safeguarding Children Procedures 2009. Kent Social Services is committed to helping families in an informal way whenever this can be achieved without continued serious risk to the child. Many enquiries result in no further action being taken under the child protection procedures.
Where enquiries do indicate that a child is suffering, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, further assessment of risk will be made at a child protection conference.
Sometimes the risk to the child may be so grave that legal measures are required to ensure the child¹s safety. This applies only where no other means of protecting the child is possible.