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What is Compass?
Compass is the single point of contact for receiving new enquiries regarding concerns for the welfare or protection of children and young people in Shropshire.
Compass promotes the offer of early help to children and families in the first instance, where it's safe to do so.
Compass provides other professionals with support and guidance in completing assessments for early help and delivering early help plans. This support includes the opportunity to book a consultation with either an early help social worker or a targeted youth worker.
What happens in Compass?
Whenever anyone is worried about a child, for example a school teacher, they make contact with Compass to discuss their worries. This is called an ‘initial concern’. One of the Compass team will talk to the referrer to agree how best to offer early help to a child, young person or family. As part of this process a Compass worker may contact the family direct, or through the referring professional.
An initial concern can identify that a child may be a "child in need", and by this we mean they may need services to promote their welfare. Where this is the case, the initial concern will be progressed to a “referral”.
Compass professionals will, between each other, share information that their own agency holds to gather a fuller picture to inform the decision on the most appropriate next steps. A child in need is often referred to as a Section 17 child in need, referencing the Children Act 1989.
Where a concern identifies that a child might be at risk of significant harm, a social worker will liaise with professionals within and outside Compass to decide what actions need to be taken to keep a child safe. A situation involving a child at risk of significant harm is often referred to as Section 47 child protection, again referencing the Children Act 1989.
The Compass team comprises a range of agencies and professionals working together, including:
- social workers
- targeted youth workers
- family support workers
- Family Information Service
- child sexual exploitation/missing coordinator
- information coordinators
Can information be shared without parent’s permission?
Practitioners working with families at a Universal, Early Hep or Targeted level will need to get the consent of the family before any information is held or shared with other agencies. Practitioners need to be open and honest with families from the outset as to why, what, how and with whom their personal information will be shared. Information will be treated as confidential and will not be shared without the parent, or young person’s agreement unless it is required by law or it is considered a child, young person or adult is at risk of harm to themselves or others.
If the practitioner does not gain the family’s consent and in future has ongoing concerns, they should consider contacting Compass for advice and guidance.
With the exception of child protection matters, referrals to Compass cannot be accepted without parents having been consulted first.
Consent is not required for child protection referrals where it is suspected that a child may be suffering or be at risk of suffering significant harm; however, the referring practitioner, would need to inform parents or carers that you are making a referral, unless to do so may:
- Place the child at increased risk of Significant Harm; or
- Place any other person at risk of injury; or
- Obstruct or interfere with any potential Police investigation; or
- lead to unjustified delay in making enquiries about allegations of significant harm.
The child’s interest must be the overriding consideration in making such decisions. Decisions should be recorded.
The next steps
If the Compass Hub believes that the child would benefit from extra help, or that the parent/carer needs support, it will signpost the family to the right service, ensuring that support is provided quickly.
No further action
If the Compass Hub believes that the child’s needs can be appropriately met by services and support already in place then no further action will be taken and the contact will be closed down.
Social work assessment
If the Compass Hub decides the child is a "child in need" or at risk of harm, the referral will progress to a social work assessment, and a social worker from one of the case management teams will be allocated to complete the assessment.
Can a parent access help and support directly?
Yes! As a parent you can contact Compass on 0345 678 9021 for advice and/or support if you're not already working with a professional who can help.
For more information on the definitions of children in need and our duties and responsibilities, refer to the Children Act 1989 and/or the Shropshire Safeguarding Board procedures on referrals and thresholds.