What can happen after a referral to children’s services

Children's Services have a legal duty to support children who are at risk of harm and families that need extra support to meet their child's health and development needs.

If you ask for support, or someone else raises concerns about a child's safety, our Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) will assess the information given and determine the level of support needed based on our Continuum of Support for children and families living in Surrey.

There are a variety of possible outcomes:

Support from services offering 'universal early help'

If you and your family would be best supported by other local services, we will signpost you to these. Our Family Information Service provides advice and has a directory of services in Surrey.

We may also suggest that you speak with someone already working with your child or children, such as a nursery practitioner or teacher about what support they may be able to provide. Or to contact another local service such as Home-Start, Surrey Care Trust or a family centre. Our one-minute guides explain the differences in types of support.

Support from targeted services

A referral to targeted help services may be the best support option for your family. We will send the referral to the service who can best meet your needs. This could be:

Support from specialist services

A social worker will contact you to complete an assessment if there are concerns about the safety of your child or children. This is to see whether support from social services could help you to keep your child or children safe.

What can I expect from an assessment?

One of our social workers will carry out the assessment and talk with:

  • you
  • your family
  • your child or children, if they are able to be involved
  • and other people and services who know your family

They will write their findings in a report that will say what support you need and if we can help. You will receive a copy of the report.

Sometimes we are required to share information with government departments. Our privacy notice explains more.

Assessment outcomes

The outcome could be signposting to other local services or that targeted help services may be the best option. Or they can recommend the following:

Child in Need

If your child may need extra support to maintain a reasonable standard of health and development, they may be a 'child in need'.

If a Child in Need plan would benefit your family, there will be a meeting with you and the services supporting your family. You will discuss what your strengths are and how you can build on these. As well as identifying what you would like to be different and how you can be supported to make this change. This will then be put into a plan and your progress will be regularly reviewed. The aim of this plan is to provide support so that your child can continue to live safely in your family.

Your social worker will arrange to visit you at home and may also see your child in school or nursery. They will speak with all members of the family to make sure they understand everyone's views. They will support you to make progress in the areas you identified as being difficult and also build on your strengths.

The Family Rights group have more information on Child in Need services.

Child protection

If there is agreement that the available information suggests that a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, a specific assessment, known as a section 47, will happen. Because professionals feel the situation may be risky for the child, this can be done without parent/carer consent.

If you need a child protection plan, this will be put together by you and the services supporting your family at an initial child protection conference (ICPC). The Surrey Safeguarding Partnership have information on child protection conferences for parents and information about child protection conferences for children and young people.

The child protection plan will detail what you and the services working with your family feel need to change to keep your child or children safe and how this will be achieved. You and your 'core group', made up of the professionals you are regularly working with, will review the plan regularly. You will also have specific meetings called review child protection conferences to go over your progress. It will be decided at these meetings whether the child protection plan is still needed or whether to take a different approach.

Your social worker will visit you at home and may also visit your child or children in school or nursery. It is important for them to speak to each member of your family to make sure they understand everyone's views. They will offer you support to make progress, improve the safety of your child or children and keep you together as a family.

The Family Rights group have more information on Child Protection services.

If the professionals working with you have serious concerns that you are not making progress and are worried about the safety of your child or children, they may escalate to 'pre-proceedings'. You will be notified by letter and advised to seek legal support. A meeting will then take place to specify what needs to change immediately and what support you need to keep your child safe. This will be put into a plan and reviewed regularly. This is to ensure that you have had all the right support to keep your child safe at home. We will only escalate to 'care proceedings' where there are still concerns that your child or children are likely to suffer significant harm at home. Read more about children in our care.

The Family Rights Group have more information on pre-proceedings and care proceedings.


In an emergency or crisis, we may have to consider specific arrangements for a child to keep them safe.

The Family Rights group have more information on urgent protection measures.

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