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Frequently Asked Questions – Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

Who are MASH and what do they do?

The MASH team are Qualified Social Workers co-located with the Children’s Reception Team (CRT). Both teams work in conjunction with one another to safeguard children.  The MASH team will only receive cases from CRT where concerns for children are evident and further investigation is required. MASH will provide triage and multi-agency assessment of all safeguarding concerns in respect of vulnerable children.  It brings together professionals from a range of agencies into an integrated multi-agency team. The benefit of the MASH team is it will gather information from the various computer systems managed by each individual agency within the MASH, where this information will then be shared in a timely and effective way to inform the decision making on cases. Other agencies who work within the MASH team include Adult Services, Hampshire Police, and Health services.  The Children’s Services element of MASH is staffed by qualified social workers who will analyse all of the information they have gathered as part of their enquiries and will make a recommendation for cases to be closed, transferred to Early Help services and/or transferred to the relevant district for assessment under S.47 or S.17 Children Act 1989.

What are the MASH Timescales for completing enquiries?

Social workers in MASH have up to 48hrs to complete all the necessary enquiries on children’s cases allocated to them. Prior to the end of the 48hrs , a management decision will be made to either close the child’s case with no further involvement and/ or transfer to Early Help or one of our district teams for assessment.

What if the case is immediate safeguarding and or the child has suffered significant harm under S.47 Children Act 1989?

MASH will prioritise all cases where a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. In these circumstances, referrals will be made quickly to partner agencies within the MASH where a strategy discussion will be held. All strategy discussions are held within a 2-4-hour timeframe and the referral information and risks to the child will be fully considered by partner agencies. All strategy discussions are held in MASH and are led by a Team Manager from Childrens social care. For cases that are outside the usual working hours of MASH and the child is deemed to be at risk that evening; a strategy discussion will be undertaken with a Team Manager from Hampshire’s Out of Hours service alongside available partner agencies in MASH. For children that are not deemed to be at immediate risk of significant harm the strategy discussion will be undertaken the next working day.

Will MASH share my referral information with parents / carers?

MASH are expected to make contact with parents / carers and or significant others where concerns for a child have been raised. Therefore, if you as a professional have made a referral please expect this information to be shared with these individuals. Professionals are expected to discuss referrals being made to CRT/ MASH with the parents / carers involved unless the child is being placed at immediate risk of harm or has suffered significant harm.

Where the referral has been made by a member of the public MASH will always do their utmost to keep the identity of individuals anonymous, however there are on occasions times when the information provided by the referrer would lead the parent / carer to identify for themselves who they believe the referral has come from. MASH would not knowingly divulge this information, however given any enquirers being made at a later stage in the process, the parent / carer may themselves identify the source of the referral.

If I am contacted by a MASH Social Worker what should I do?

It is very important for MASH to gain as much relevant information as possible. MASH will endeavour to contact a range of professionals / parents / carers to discuss the nature of the concerns and to identify how support can be provided to improve the outcomes for children. Therefore, if you are contacted by MASH given the strict timeframe it is important that you share your views and information with the Social Worker as quickly as possible so that all risks can be fully considered.

Do staff in MASH/CRT visit families?

No – staff working in CRT / MASH are all office based and have the role of receiving information from every agency and analysing any potential risks. They then make decisions in respect of the most appropriate intervention for a child’s identified needs. Where a child / family require a visit from a social worker as part of an agreed intervention, this visit will be conducted by one of the district based social workers.

Do MASH social workers case hold?

MASH social workers will only hold cases for a maximum of 48 hrs.  They do not hold cases any longer than this period. If a family requires further assessment work, then this will be allocated to a district based social worker who will complete any further assessment and if relevant, work who other agencies and the family to agree a plan of support.

If a child’s case is in MASH can I contact the social worker directly?

All social workers in MASH have their own direct dial telephone numbers / emails. Should you need to contact MASH social workers in relation to a case they are working on, then you can contact them directly via email and or individual telephone numbers. MASH Social workers will provide these to you when they contact you.

If a case has been closed to MASH but additional concerns have then been identified, then these new concerns will need to be re referred via CRT using a new (IARF).  MASH social workers are unable to take new information on closed cases and will re direct you to CRT.

General Questions:

How do I access counselling services?

Local support and counselling services that may be available to you in your area can be found here at the Hampshire’s Supporting Families Programme and includes information on how to refer to those individual services.

Do Children’s Services offer respite care?

Hampshire Children Services can support in offering respite care. Respite care is usually a form of short-term substitute care for children with significant disabilities or a serious health condition and is provided by someone other than parents or the carer of the child. It may be a one off or form part of a support package based on the needs of individual children and their families. Consideration will be given to the likelihood of respite care being available to you as part of the assessment of a child’s needs.

What is a PREVENT referral?

PREVENT is the name given to a national strategy which aims to stop people becoming involved in extremism or radicalisation. If you have concerns for a young person being at risk then you should complete the Inter-Agency Referral Form.  Further information for PREVENT can be found at the Hampshire PREVENT Partnership Board Website.

If a case is open to Early Help who should I contact if I am concerned about a child?

Where a child is open to the Early Help Hub then contact should be made with the relevant Early Help Hub worker  to discuss the situation in the first instance.  If you believe the child  is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, then contact should be made directly with CRT.

Where can parents / professionals go when they don’t agree with a MASH decision?

If you do not agree with a decision and process, in the first instance please contact CRT and ask for a review of the case emphasising the concerns you have raised. Should this not resolve the concerns you can request a team manager makes contact to discuss the decision with you.

If you still have concerns you can follow the Hampshire or Isle of Wight Safeguarding Partnership’s escalation procedure at Joint Working Protocol for the Professional Challenge and Resolution of Professional Disagreement.

Making a comment, suggestion or complaint about CRT / MASH.

How to make a comment, suggestion or complaint and what happens next;

Should you remain dissatisfied with the service you have received from CRT or MASH and despite speaking with a team manager you feel your concerns have not been resolved, then you are able to contact the Hampshire County Council Complaints Team. Details on how to escalate a concern and raise a complaint can be found at the following link: Making a comment, suggestion or complaint.

You can make a general enquiry using the enquiries form or by emailing info@hants.gov.uk.