Making assessments and referrals

Continuum of Need and Thresholds Guidance

The Lancashire Continuum of Need (CON) provides help and guidance to practitioners at all levels, working in the statutory, public, voluntary and independent sectors, who work with children, young people and their families.  It allows practitioners to identify levels of need and risk through the use of indicators related to outcomes. The CON also supports practitioners in determining how their service can best support and work alongside children, young people and their families by providing guidance as to what assessment and planning procedures to follow at each level to meet or prevent the escalation of need and support de-escalation from statutory services.

Risk Sensible Framework for Multi-agency Partners

Following the introduction of Risk Sensible Practice within the local authority, the LSCB have developed a multi-agency framework to assist practitioners across all agencies in working in line with risk sensible principles.

The Framework aims to assist partners in thinking about the needs and risks present for a child or young person within their family or care setting, and to understand how underlying and high risk factors may be identified.  It can support decisions around when to make a referral to Children's Social Care and when to start, or continue to support a family, via the CAF or TAF (Team Around the Family) process.

Common Assessment Framework

The Common Assessment Framework [CAF] is a key tool in the early identification of children and young people and families who may experience problems or who are vulnerable to poor outcomes and underpins the work of Early Help.

CAF documentation has been updated in August 2017 and can be accessed via the CYP Trust website:

Referrals to Children's Social Care

Anyone can raise a concern about the safety and welfare of a child by calling 0300 123 6720 (or between 8.00pm - 8.00am on 0300 123 6722.)

However, where the needs of help and support meet Levels 3 and 4 of the Continuum of Need, professionals are able to submit a referral form directly to Children's Social Care via the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

Before making a referral to MASH you need to consider if the child or young person’s needs can be met by services from within your own agency, or by other professionals already involved with the family, including consideration to initiating a CAF.  You should consider Lancashire's Continuum of Need, threshold guidance and risk sensible model to inform your decision and also whether a referral to Lancashire Children and Family Wellbeing Service (CFW) will support an existing CAF Plan, particularly where the concerns at level 2 are more complex.  The CFW service offer below provides information about the services available.

The referral form must be completed as comprehensively as possible.  If you are a professional, you should always inform the parent of your concerns and that you will be making a referral and wherever possible seek their consent beforehand, except where a child is considered to be at risk of harm and you believe that seeking parental consent may increase this risk.  If you are unsure about thresholds or seeking consent please seek advice from your line manager.

When there are concerns about a child or young person at level 4 of the CON (child protection), you should make direct contact on 0300 123 6720 or the Police (999 in an emergency) and complete the referral form once the immediate concerns have been addressed.  If the child you are concerned about already has an allocated Social Worker go directly to this person by contacting 0300 123 6720 – there is no need to use this form.