No Access Visit Guidance
This chapter is guidance For Children's Social Care staff, social workers / Family First and Family Support workers in relation to 'No Access visits' to Children and Families, i.e. staff have been unable to see a child and / or family in line with their duties and responsibilities.
1. Home Visits for Purpose of Accessing a Child
Seeing children at home who are subject of plans / or Section 47 enquiries is a key social work responsibility whether the child is a Child In Need, has a Child Protection Plan or is a Child Looked After. Timescales for visiting vary, depending upon the child's status and where they are living, but all timescales represent minimum standards and visiting may take place more frequently if it is felt that this is necessary to ensure progress of the plan.
If a home visit to a child is undertaken and the child is not seen or the social worker is unable to gain access this needs to be discussed with the team manager within 24 hours. The manager must then set a timeframe for a further visit to ensure that the child is seen within 5 working days. The urgency with which efforts must be undertaken to see the child will depend upon whether other professionals have seen the child as well as the current level of concern for the child. Serious Case Reviews have frequently highlighted histories of no access visits and of children becoming hidden and therefore it is important to ensure that the child is seen and is safe.
If the child is not seen at the following visit, or the social worker is unable to gain access, this should be viewed as significant and immediately discussed with the team manager. A plan should be made to ensure that the child is seen within 24 hours and consideration should be given to whether there is a need to review the current plan or seek legal advice.
At all stages, it is important that actions taken and decisions made are clearly recorded on the child's ICS record.
2. Home Visits for Purpose of Assessing a Parent / Carer
In terms of completing home visits to parents / carers for the purpose of assessments, an assessment cannot be completed unless the person engages in the process. Non-engagement may be a symptom of avoidance, a conscious effort to avoid professional involvement in their lives. Social workers / case managers and family support workers need to alert their supervisors to such a scenario, regardless of whether the assessment, is a TAF, Single, Pre-birth or Parenting Assessment, so action can be agreed i.e. need to convene a strategy meeting / escalate to Children's Social Care. Child Protection Chairs when tracking cases should also refer to the engagement of parents, carers in the assessment planning process.
No access visits / non-engagement by families should be considered a concern, and as such may place children and unborn children at risk of harm. Action by managers and Child Protection Chairs needs to be agreed in cases where social work access to homes is denied / avoided. The action should be recorded on ICS.All workers should familiarise themselves with the Knowsley Engaging Families Toolkit to ensure they are adapting their practice to seek meaningful engagement with families.