Children’s Services Support Hub and Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

As part of Lancashire Children’s Services transformation journey we have reviewed our Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to ensure we are meeting the needs of children, young people, and their families in Lancashire.

We have undertaken extensive research of Good and Outstanding Local Authorities (as determined through OFSTED), engaged in dialogue with neighbouring authorities and with our partner agencies. All of this has led us to the conclusion that we needed to develop a single point of contact for all of our Children’s Services within the council.

This movement to a single point of contact also reflects our ambition to rebalance our ‘Front Door’, enhancing the focus on early support services through targeted intervention services and community support. The Hub has been aligned to Lancashire’s commitment to Family Safeguarding and there is a clear emphasis on all professionals identifying family strengths at the earliest interaction with the authority.

This is not to the detriment of safeguarding; the Children’s Services Support Hub accommodates the Multi agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) which continues to sit within the service to ensure multi agency collaboration and information sharing when there are safeguarding concerns.

We believe that the movement to the Children’s Services Support Hub will strengthen multi agency application of thresholds and will allow a more coordinated and succinct processes which will ultimately result in efficient decision making that enables children and families access to the right support at the right time.

Access support from Children’s Services Support Hub

Professionals can request support or raise safeguarding issues to the hub using the the Children’s Services Request for Support Form.

This replaces the previous referral mechanism, the Children’s Social Care referral form (MARF) and the Children Family Wellbeing Request for support form.

The request for support process visual (PDF 113KB) provides more details of the process and what happens next.

Professionals will continue to be able to contact the Hub and request to speak to an early help officer/worker or a social worker to discuss concerns but any formal requests for support or safeguarding concerns will need to followed up with a Request for support. For education partners, the MASH education leads and the advice line will continue to be in place.

How decisions are made

Across Lancashire, all professionals working with children should familiarise themselves with Working Well With Children and Families Guidance which includes detailed information around threshold and the continuum of need (CON).

Within any request for support, you will be asked to identify what level of support you feel the child and family needs in line with the guidance.

Similarly, the Children’s Services Support Hub, MASH and Statutory Children’s Social Care all provide interventions depending on the assessed level of need in line with the CON. This is because legislation is very clear that families have the right to privacy and must consent to work with professionals. This can only ever be overridden if a child is at immediate risk of, or currently experiencing significant harm.

Why a good request for support and threshold application is important

The work dealt with in Children’s Services is about ensuring that the right children receive the right service at the right time. Research has shown that when children who are referred become subject to child protection enquiries which are subsequently unsubstantiated, they are less likely to receive a service at all, in contrast to those who are assessed as children in need from the point of access.

Agencies represented within the Children’s Services Support Hub and MASH

The Children’s Services Support Hub consists of senior social workers, early help officers and business support.

The MASH teams are primarily social work teams but also have input from:

  • police
  • education
  • health
  • early help
  • probation
  • fire and rescue
  • Child and Youth Justice Service
  • victim support