View Working Together View Working Together
View Oxfordshire Childrens Service Procedures Manual View Oxfordshire Childrens Service Procedures Manual

2.2 Escalation Policy for Professionals with Child Protection or Child Welfare Concerns

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2015 when the link to OSCB Escalation Policy was changed so that it now links to an updated policy.


Contents

  1. Resolution of Professional Disagreements in Working Relation to the Safety of Children
  2. Stages of the Policy

    Appendix 1: OSCB Escalation Policy for Professionals with Child Protection or Child Welfare Concerns Flowchart

    Appendix 2: OSCB Escalation Policy: Notification of an Escalation to the OSCB

    Appendix 3: Local Contacts - List of Agency’s Escalation Leads


1. Resolution of Professional Disagreements in Working Relation to the Safety of Children

Introduction

Occasionally situations arise when workers within one agency feel that the decision made by a worker from another agency on a Child Protection or Child in Need case is not a safe decision.  Disagreements could arise in a number of areas, but are most likely to arise around:

  • Levels of Need;
  • Roles and responsibilities;
  • The need for action;
  • Communication.

The safety of individual children is the paramount consideration in any professional disagreement and any unresolved issues should be addressed with due consideration to the risks that might exist for the child.

All workers should feel able to challenge decision-making and to see this as their right and responsibility in order to promote the best multi-agency safeguarding practice. This policy provides workers with the means to raise concerns they have about decisions made by other professionals or agencies by:

  1. Avoiding professional disputes that put children at risk or obscure the focus on the child;
  2. Resolving the difficulties within and between agencies quickly and openly;
  3. Identifying problem areas in working together where there is a lack of clarity and to promote the resolution via amendment to protocols and procedures.

Effective working together depends on an open approach and honest relationships between agencies. Problem resolution is an integral part of healthy challenge, professional co-operation and joint working to safeguard children.

Each agency should determine whether a formal internal escalation policy if necessary, and if so, ensure that it is consistent with this with this policy.

Timescales

Resolution should be sought within the shortest timescale possible to ensure the child is protected. Some disagreements regarding safeguarding decisions will require speedy resolution. In all cases where a professional thinks a child is at imminent risk of harm and another agency disagrees they should refer immediately to their line manager. If necessary contact should also be made with either their Agency Escalation lead and/or Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board member. For all other cases, efforts should be made by all involved to resolve the dispute in a timely way. The primary focus must always be on ensuring that the safety and welfare of the child concerned is assured whilst discussions take place.


2. Stages of the Policy

Pre-escalation - Professional: Professional

Any worker who feels that a decision is not safe or is inappropriate should initially consult their safeguarding lead or line manager to clarify their thinking in order to identify the problem; to be specific as to what the disagreement is about; and what they aim to achieve. They should also be able to evidence the nature and source of their concerns and should keep a record of all discussions. Initial attempts should be taken to resolve the problem at the lowest possible level. This would normally be between the people who disagree. It should be recognised that differences in status and/or experience may affect the confidence of some workers to pursue this option unsupported.

Stage One - Manager: Manager       

If the problem is not resolved between the professionals as above, the concerned worker should contact their manager within their own agency who should raise the concerns with the equivalent manager in the other agency to seek resolution.

Stage Two - Escalation Lead: Escalation Lead

If the problem is not resolved at stage one the managers will report to the designated Escalation Lead for their agency (or Senior Manager if there is no Escalation Lead). The two Leads must attempt to resolve the professional differences through discussion. 

Escalation Leads

Escalation leads are senior representatives of agencies who can exercise authority within their agency to resolve difficulties in respect of inter-agency communication/working on safeguarding children’s cases. They do not, in all instances, directly manage the services within their sphere of authority, but have a designated responsibility on behalf of the agency to undertake this role.

Contacts should be used where frontline practitioners and managers have been unable to resolve issues via their normal communication routes. Leads may assist by brokering prompt solutions to problems; or by ensuring communication and resolution by fellow managers. 

Complex Case Panel

The Complex Case Panel is a multi-agency meeting held bi-monthly. It aims to review ‘stuck’ cases that are not progressing towards improved outcomes. Appendix 3: identifies each agency’s Escalation Lead who can advise on bringing cases to panel for discussion and assistance.

Documenting Discussions and Decisions

At all stages of the process, actions and decisions must be recorded in writing and shared with relevant personnel, to include the worker who raised the initial concern. In particular this must include written confirmation between the parties about an agreed outcome of the disagreement and how any outstanding issues will be pursued.

At the level the matter has been resolved, the OSCB Notification of an Escalation form must be completed by the manager who resolved the concern and forwarded to the OSCB Business Support Team on the email below. Following resolution, it may be useful for individuals to debrief in order to promote continuing good working relationships.

NB: In all cases where a professional thinks a child is at imminent risk of harm and another agency disagrees they should refer direct to their Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board agency representative after consulting quickly with their line manager or named Child Protection representative. 

OSCB mailbox: OSCB@Oxfordshire.gov.uk

NB: Please ensure that all personal identifiable information is sent by secure means.


Appendices

Appendix 1: OSCB Escalation Policy for Professionals with Child Protection or Child Welfare Concerns Flowchart

Appendix 2: OSCB Escalation Policy: Notification of an Escalation to the OSCB

Appendix 3: Local Contacts - List of Agency’s Escalation Leads

End