Oxfordshire County Council

The results

The Skylakes team received 1139 enquiries over the three-month term of the contract, relating to 1963 children. On average, the team received 95 enquiries per week that resulted in MASH enquiries and 98% of these were processed within the agreed timescales. The tactical support provided by the Skylakes team enabled the council’s MASH team to clear its accumulation of cases one week before the end of the project.

We also successfully worked in partnership with the council’s team to help design and implement new, more efficient processes and reduce the risk of future backlogs. This included suggesting a number of service improvements and additional staff training. For example, we found that, in almost 70% of domestic abuse notifications, a MASH enquiry was not necessary. Therefore, we recommended the creation of a tri-partite team, comprising health, police and social work personnel to achieve better liaison and prevent inappropriate use of the MASH.

We received extremely positive feedback on our performance from the council and partner agencies. Everyone involved found working with the Skylakes team highly productive and were delighted with the positive results achieved.

Project Highlights

  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • June 2015 to August 2015
  • 1139 enquiries over 3 months
  • Average of 95 enquiries per week resulted in MASH enquiries
  • of enquiries progressed in agreed timescales

The challenge

Prompt processing of enquiries into a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is vital to identify any urgent child protection issues. The council needed a trusted partner to work with to help clear an accumulation of enquiries and embed more efficient ways of working to prevent future pressures on its own MASH team.

Working directly with the council’s MASH team and in accordance with the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ 2015 statutory guidance, we set clear objectives enhancing multi-agency working whilst monitoring application of threshold. This enables us to identify any potential risk to a child on the same day as enquiries.

Our approach

We quickly mobilised four senior Skylakes social workers to work on a co-location basis alongside the council’s own team at a local police station for three months during summer 2015. Our brief was to process all new enquiries, allowing the council’s in-house team to concentrate on existing workload. This included progressing cases to child and family assessment, referring them on to appropriate universal services initiating child protection enquiries or no further action. We also provided advice and support directly to families and professionals.

Each member of our team had a protected caseload of 25 MASH enquiries at a time with a target to progress at least 10 per day. With an average of 95 enquiries per week resulting in a MASH referral, evidence-based working in real time was one of the main drivers in our delivery of the project. Statistics were collated at the end of each day by our highly trained team of social work administrators, and discussed with the project manager, before being shared with the service manager and director.

We engaged with frontline workers, senior managers and partner agencies to understand the issues causing a high level of unnecessary enquiries. This enabled us to give an objective outlook on current working practices and introduce a number of evidence-based ways to improve the performance of the MASH in the future.