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Case study

Working with partners to assess risk and need: Cheshire West and Chester early support access team


13 Aug 2015

The services many individuals and families receive are often repetitive, fragmented and reactive, resulting in high costs for a number of organisations.  In Cheshire West and Chester, professionals with concerns about a particular individual or family are able to contact the Early Support Access Team (ESAT), a single ‘front door’ made up of key partners. This team is able to offer information, advice and guidance based on a range of partner information available to them. They create a comprehensive profile of the individual or family if this is needed, and they can recommend where multi-agency case management is necessary. Multi-agency case management teams, based in local Children’s Centres, are now working with individuals and families in a joined-up way using a single assessment and plan. A lead agency and worker is identified to support the family.

Mum of two young children, Emma, presented herself at a children’s centre asking for a food parcel voucher and general support with benefits. A referral was made into the centre for additional family support, and the case was also highlighted following a referral from the ESAT. ESAT had been alerted by the police when Emma contacted them to report that she had been the victim of domestic abuse.  Her partner, who had been drinking all day, subjected her to a violent physical attack, which she was initially reluctant to report. Emma was assigned an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor and the case was referred to the ESAT.

The team conducted a 360⁰ profile of the children, woman and her partner, which revealed that the children were not known to Social Care, and that her partner had a history of domestic violence and aggressive behaviour towards his previous partners. He also had a history of mental health problems, substance and alcohol misuse. There was a suggested diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and he was assessed at moderate risk of harming himself. Probation judged him to be high risk for reoffending and medium risk for harming children. However, in light of the 360⁰ profile information, they were in agreement that he was actually high risk to children. Police had offences recorded involving a weapon, violent behaviour, self harm and domestic abuse.

The Independent Domestic Violence Advisor arranged to have the case taken to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC). At the case management allocations meeting it was agreed that MARAC would be asked for permission for the mother to be given historical information about the perpetrator to ensure that she was made aware that he may pose a risk to her children.

The multi-agency approach to Integrated Early Support has accelerated the rate at which these interventions have been implemented, reducing the risk of further abuse or harm to either Emma or her children. Historically at the onset of involvement, the Children’s Centre would have only had the information that the mother provided when she presented at the centre. She chose not to disclose the domestic abuse. It may have been weeks or even months before the case work gained the information that the 360⁰ profile provided. This would have significantly delayed the triggering of professional support from the multi-agency case management allocations meeting, which immediately agreed to deploy an individual to support the Team Around the Family.