Wednesday 18 December 2013

Multi agency support hubs – reduce Child protection referrals

A report into the effectiveness of Mash, commissioned across five local authority areas by strategic support body the London Safeguarding Children Board (London SCB) and London Councils, found that the average turnaround time for cases initially assessed as involving children and young people with high or complex needs nearly halved in some areas, from 2.5 days to just over 1.25 days.

The turnaround time for cases referred to the Mash and initially assessed as involving children with low to vulnerable needs halved from more than four and a half days to less than two and half days.

A Mash co-locates a range of agencies, including police, local authority children’s services, education, probation and health staff to share information and spot emerging problems early, potentially saving lives.

The two-month study by researchers at Greenwich University, found that professional working in Mash teams were developing their own Mash culture distinct from that of single agencies.

"This demonstrates the potential for improvement in partnership communication and information sharing," they concluded.

However, researchers reported there were concerns around heavy workloads, poor staffing and inadequate IT, while some non-social care staff felt "marginalised and their skills and experience underutilised".

They said further research was needed to establish whether under-resourcing was impacting on the ability of Mash professionals to work effectively.

Cheryl Coppell, chair of London SCB, said: “All the evidence in this report, the first of its kind, suggests that working in this way improves communication and breaks down professional boundaries that can sometimes act as a barrier to information sharing. Among the more significant findings is a reduction in turnaround time of referrals to safeguarding services at all levels of risk. This is a quantifiable improvement that makes children safer and is very encouraging. London is an excellent example of how the model can significantly improve outcomes, with a hub running in 28 boroughs and the remaining areas set to follow.”

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