At all levels of identification of need, a practitioner will check with the child, young person or family whether there is existing or previous involvement with another service.

The practitioner can also check this by contacting the central Common and Shared Assessment Team (CASA) for lower level concerns, or by checking with the MASH(Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) for higher level concerns, as appropriate.

MWBM Universal Level (blue): Child or Young Person with low level additional needs requiring Universal support

When a child or young person is identified with a possible low level need, the initial agency involved will make a decision as to what action will be taken in response to this. At this level, following checks as indicated in introduction above, the agency picking up the concern may be able to meet the need directly, whereby concerns can be responded to, and recorded, using own in-house agency procedures.

A CASA form may - optionally - be used to record the process of assessment and response at this level.

MWBM Universal Level (green): Child or Young Person with low level additional needs requiring Universal and Targeted support

MWBM Enhanced Level (green): Child or Young Person with medium level additional needs requiring the advice or support of one of Merton Enhanced Services

When the initiating agency identifies needs beyond what their own service can support, they may consult with, or seek services from, another agency – having checked for other services already involved as in introductory paragraph at top of page above. If it is clear what that need is, but an appropriate service is not yet identified, Merton Family Services Directory  may help in identifying an appropriate service. The Enhanced Services (Supporting Families 0-5; Vulnerable Children 5-18; Transforming Families) may also be consulted for advice and guidance at any stage in the process.

At MWBM (green) Universal Level , a CASA is undertaken jointly by the agency who identified the concern together with the targeted service providing specified support.

At this level, where the response is jointly shared between two agencies, the consensual  CASA process, supported by CASA form, is used to guide and record the information gathering and assessment analysis, and this form, together with CASA Action Plan, is shared with the family or young person. A CASA Review template will be used for subsequent Reviews or Team Around the Child/Family (TAC/TAF) meetings, and any CASA Review forms, together with updated Action Plan, will again be shared between agencies involved, as well as with the family.

A copy of the originating and all subsequent Review CASAs are also routinely provided to the central CASA Team for central log: it is this log which enables advice on existing services working with a family to be provided by central CASA Team in response to query by practitioner prior to their starting a CASA.

At  MWBM (green) Enhanced Level, consultation with one of the Enhanced Service Teams

or with other Merton Teams who provide support also at this level (such as Specialist Educational Needs and Disability Integrated Service, Short Breaks Service, or Virtual Behaviour Service) may lead to their ongoing involvement. An outcome at this level could mean either that
  • a Family Support Worker from the Enhanced service could lead on further co-ordination of the CASA process, or that
  • advice and guidance would actively be provided to the existing lead agency by a team member from an Enhanced Service

Where multi-agency involvement is identified as necessary, or where concerns still persist following above single/joint agency assessment or intervention, then a Common Assessment followed by a Team Around the Child (TAC) or Team Around the Family (TAF) meeting will be undertaken.

The lead agency will consult with appropriate other practitioners from other agencies, agree who needs to be involved, record shared information on CASA form and make arrangements for convening a TAC/F meeting: (see section Multi-Agency TAC/TAF Meeting for more detailed guidance on this process). A copy of the CASA record will be shared with everyone involved, including the family/young person, prior to the meeting. The lead agency will arrange to chair and minute the meeting.

At the meeting, where an agency other than the initiating one is identified as more appropriate to take over the lead on co-ordinating the agreed Action Plan (for example, through having an already positive relationship with the child; or likely to have most on-going involvement with the child/family), then the worker from that agency may become the on-going agreed Lead Practitioner in this case. The TAC/TAF meeting will be recorded on a CASA Review form, while the CASA Action Plan will be appropriately updated, with the agreed lead agency clearly recorded, and next Review date set. By also completing the CASA Web of Changes with the family at each CASA Review/TAC/TAF meeting, this provides a graphic illustration of how things are improving (or not!) for them, highlighting progress made throughout the CASA process.

All involved agencies, and the family, will receive copies of this full updated CASA record (original full CASA, updated Action Plan, supporting Review commentary, Web of Changes graphic).

And again, copy of all CASA Reviews and updated Action Plan must routinely be shared with the Central CASA Team for central logging purposes to inform any future CASA queries.

MWBM (amber) Enhanced Level: Child or Young Person with complex additional needs, or low level 'Child in Need'

MWBM (amber) Specialist Level: Child or Young Person with high level 'Child in Need' concerns

At MWBM (amber) Enhanced Level, a Social Worker within one of the Enhanced Level Services

will assume the lead coordinating role in assessing, identifying level of need including impact of parenting, and in responding – with partner agencies as appropriate – to a complexity of additional needs presenting for a child or young person at this level. Children’s Social Care (CSC) Specialist Meetings will be conducted and recorded by the Social Worker within the Merton CSC Single Assessment framework, with contributions as appropriate from all partner agencies as required by Sections 10-11 of the Children Act 2004.

At MWBM (amber) Specialist Level, a Social Worker within one of the Central Children Social Care Team leads on coordinating responses for children who are already looked after by Merton Children’s Social Care, or who are subject to Child in Needs plans.  

MWBM (red) Specialist Level: Child or Young Person with high level or complex needs, requiring specialist / or statutory /or sustained / or intensive support

If Child Protection issues have been identified at any stage of an assessment process, or if the concerns persist after an Action Plan has been implemented, then a formal referral must immediately be made to Merton MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub). A telephone conversation with the MASH Team will initiate immediate action by the MASH team where Child Protection concerns are evident. Supporting information must then be summarized in writing by the referring agency within 24 hours on a Safeguarding Children Referral Form which may further be supported by a CASA where available/appropriate (for example, by case-holding practitioners who have further valuable background information to share).

A decision will be made by the MASH within 24 hours as to what action will be taken.

All information, including the reasons for the decision, will be recorded. Merton MASH will inform the family and the referrer in writing of the decision within statutory timescales.

The outcome may consist of one or a combination of the following:

  • Merton First Response Team to undertake a Section 47 Assessment immediately
  • Convene strategy meeting to decide whether to commence Child Protection enquiry and, if so,  whether this will be single agency or jointly with Police
  • Allocation to Central Children’s Social Care Team where work is currently already being undertaken with this family
  • Refer to a more specialist agency
  • Allocation to the Enhanced Service to undertake a Common and Shared Assessment (CASA); and a Team Around the Child/Family meeting for complex additional needs concerns
  • Signpost to appropriate Universal Level service

A Single Assessment undertaken at this level will be co-ordinated and led by Children’s Social Care, or with the police where it's a joint agency enquiry. All agencies are expected to contribute to these assessments as agreed by MASH findings in accordance with Section 10 of the Children Act 2004.

Fuller detail on this level of assessment can be accessed from the London Child Protection Procedures.

A Section 47 Assessment should be undertaken on all children requiring an in-depth assessment that addresses the central or most important aspects of the needs of the child and the capacity of his/her parents/caregivers to respond appropriately to these needs within the family and wider community.

This Assessment will begin by focusing primarily on the information identified during the Single Assessment as being of most importance when considering whether the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. The assessment should cover all relevant domains in the Assessment Framework, weighing safety factors against severity, vulnerability or likelihood of risk.

Possible outcomes of such enquiry may lead to a Child Protection Conference being convened, and or support package(s) being identified for child and or family.

At the highest level of concern, a child would be entering the Public Care system with

  • the child placed in alternative accommodation
  • Care Proceedings initiated with legal solution not yet secured
  • the child on Child Protection Plan

An initial Single Assessment in Merton should be completed within 40 working days from referral, with Review undertaken by 20 days. The statutory deadline for Single Assessment completion is 45 days.

The role of the police in undertaking a Section 47 Assessment is to investigate whether there are grounds for instigating criminal proceedings. Police will be the lead investigative agency when evidence has been obtained that a criminal offence has been committed. This would normally rule out the suspect being confronted with the evidence by personnel from any other statutory agencies involved.

The role of health practitioners will be to undertake further medical, psychiatric tests, examinations or observations depending on the evidence available about how the child’s health or development is possibly being impaired.

The lead health practitioner (usually health visitor, paediatrician or child’s GP) may also need to commission any of a range of specialist assessments

relating to the child’s developmental progress.

All other practitioners from the targeted, specialist, statutory or the voluntary/community sectors should contribute specialist knowledge or advice to the Single Assessment, undertake specialist assessments, and contribute to the analysis of the findings as required and requested by Children's Social Care in accordance with the requirements of Sections 10-11 of the Children Act 2004.

Contact us

CASA Team
Merton MASH
12th floor
Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5DX

Telephone: 020 8545 3234 / 3993
Email: casa@merton.gov.uk(for those with Merton Council email addresses, or casa@merton.gov.uk.cjsm.net (for non-Merton-Council practitioners who hold CJSM accounts)