- Potential Areas of Disagreement
- Stage One: Preventing Disputes and Informal Dispute Procedure
- Stage Two: Informal Dispute Procedure
- Stage Three: Where Disagreements Remain
At no time must professional disagreement detract from ensuring that the child is safeguarded. The child's welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.
This procedure identifies a non-exhaustive list of potential areas of disagreement, guidance on preventing disputes and procedures to be followed when disputes cannot be resolved through discussion and negotiation between professionals at front line level. It does not include procedures when there is a disagreement regarding the need to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference or the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
- A referral not considered to meet the threshold for assessment by Children's Social Care;
- Children's Social Care conclude that further information should be sought by the referrer before a referral is progressed;
- There is disagreement as to whether the Child Protection Procedures should be invoked;
- Children's Social Care and the Police place different interpretations on the need for significant agency response in relation to a Child Protection Enquiry;
- There is a disagreement over the sharing of information and/or provision or services;
- There is disagreement over the outcome of any assessment and whether the appropriate action plan is in place to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of the Child.
Most disagreements can be resolved through discussion and negotiation. The professionals involved should attempt to resolve differences through discussion, but if they are unable to do so, their disagreement must be reported by them to their line managers or equivalent.
With respect to most day-to-day issues, the relevant line managers will be able to resolve the disagreement. The purpose of this contact is to review the available information and to resolve the concern. It may be helpful to consider the involvement of the designated or named professional at this stage in preference to use of line management.
Where it is not possible to resolve the matter at front line management level, the matter should be referred without delay to the relevant service leads should take place; for example, Head teachers, Service Managers, Designated Nurses, Designated GPs and Doctors.The issue will then be considered at service lead level and/or include Team Around the Family, with direct communication taking place with the designated professional or named professional for safeguarding within the individual agency or at a service lead level. Any action agreed should be fed back immediately to the relevant managers involved and the detail of the conflict and agreements reached should be recorded on the child's file.
If despite following the Stage One process the disagreement remains, the matter will be referred to an appropriate Executive Manager/Lead, e.g. for Cumbria County Council Children’s Services this will be the Assistant Director - Children and Families and in other agencies the strategic equivalent The Executive Manager/Lead will consider the matter with their equivalent level of management within the concerned agency who is in dispute.
The purpose of escalating the dispute to this level is to reach a position where differing professional opinions have been taken into account and efforts made to explore whether the dispute has arisen through lack of clarity or understanding in the professional dialogue. Ultimately a decision will need to be reached where agencies agree a way forward where the interests of the child take precedence over a professional stalemate.
If agreement cannot be reached then the formal process should be activated. An assessment about the degree of urgency will be determined by the Executive Manager/Lead and an appropriate timescale lasting no longer than 7 working days to be applied. If the issue relates to child protection then this should be determined within 24 hours.
The Executive Lead will e-mail the LSCB Chair, copy the LSCB Business Manager setting out the issue and what has been done to try and resolve it at an informal stage.
The LSCB Chair will identify an LSCB member who is not from either of the two agencies whose role will be to review the information and speak to the tow Executive leads. They will then make a decision drawn from this information and any other supporting information they request. This information is the final stage.
The LSCB Business Manager will report the formal use of the procedure to the Board in order that any learning can be identified and actions agreed to address this.All disputes should be resolved in a timely way so that the welfare of the child remains paramount. In some situations, it may be required to instigate all of the stages within a short period of time or to escalate the process so that the safety of the child is not compromised.