Multi Agency and Intergrated Working

Multi-agency working and integrated working are extremely important as it benefits the child, their family and the practitioners in a huge way. Definitions of these ways of working are below.
Multi-agency Working – This is where practitioners from different services and professions come together to provide integrated support for children and families with additional needs. Integrated Working – this is where different services, agencies, professional and practitioners work together to put the child at the centre to help improve their lives and met their needs and offer effective care for the child.
Integrated working and multi-agency working delivers better outcomes for the children and families as there is a broad range of knowledge, skills and professions all trying to do their best for the child. More ideas and opinions and record sharing will allow us to achieve the best possible outcomes for the child.

To make sure the outcomes for the child are to be positive we must make sure that all parties understand what information can be shared and about the importance of confidentiality. External agencies There are many external agencies that we may meet that are brought in to support a child and their family.
Some may work in their own setting and some are integrated into children centre and schools. Below is a list of some of these agencies and a brief description of their roles. Speech and Language Therapists – are employed by the local primary care trust and support individual children and their families. A referral can be made by a gp/health visitor and an awareness raised by a setting. They will work closely with the family and the setting. Educational psychologists – are employed by the local authority and will give support to children with specific learning or psychological needs.
They require a referral from the setting. Physiotherapist – are employed by the local primary care trust and will support children with a specific physical need. A referral is required either from a health professional or a setting. Play specialist – May work with social services supporting children in difficult a family situation or can support children in a hospital setting. Behavioural support service – are part of the local authority and works in partnership with schools to help promote positive behaviour.
They work within a framework of inclusion and also provide effective support to pupil, parents and schools where behaviour is a concern and may effect the child’s achievement. Social workers – employed by social services and may also be attached to a children’s centre, they will support children and their families to help family issues involving health need, poverty, bereavement etc. and also help to improve their housing. Common barriers to multi-agency working and integrated working There are many common barriers to multi-agency working and integrated working, these barriers will affect the outcome to the child.
Some of the common barriers are explained below. Professional status and professional pride – this is where people who are highly trained/qualified, find it hard to cope with being managed/lead by a person with different/lower qualifications. Different professional priorities – all professionals deal with risks, situations and priorities in different ways and orders they may not agree with others. Language and terminology – all professionals use words, phrases and abbreviations that relate to their area of expertise and other professionals who work in different areas/specialities will not understand these.
Poor communication skills – information may not be shared by all, poor methods of communication and people not receiving information/communication is a big issue. For example if information is shared by email and two workers don’t have email they will not receive the information. It is important to remove these barriers from the start before they become an issue and affect the outcome. The key to this is to put in place a lead professional. This person would co-ordinate communication, they will act as the point of contact for the child and family.
The lead professional will need to set rules and discuss things such as people preferred method of communication as we are not all the same and the lead professional must make sure they use each persons preferred method. The lead professional must also ensure that all people have a copy of the rules and ensure that if any jargon/terminology is used it is first explained to the group, all these things will help prevent barriers and ensure a good outcome for the child and their family. Referrals between agencies
Within the setting it may become necessary to refer a child to another professional for additional support, for example if it has been noticed that a child of 3 is having issues which speech that he cannot say many words and the ones that are said are not clear, then the child would benefit from support from speech and language therapist then a referral is needed the setting would follow the steps below to make the referral.

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First of speak with the parent/carer/child about the issue and gain consent to make the referral.
Next you would need to identify the service/agency who you want to refer to.
Then you would need to contact the agency and discuss the situation before making the referral. We do this to make sure the agency can offer the most suitable service/support that is needed.
Next follow the agency’s referral procedure completing all necessary paperwork and return by referral deadline if required. Always keep a copy of the referral.
Follow up the referral and find out the decision. Common Assessment Framework

In the Children Act 2004 and Every Child Matters it is outlined that the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is a way ensuring early intervention for a child before they reach a crisis point. CAF is a shared assessment and planning framework in all areas of England and Northern Ireland to be used by all practitioners working in children’s services. The main aim of CAF is to make sure that a child’s additional need is identified early and to ensure that agencies work together to meet the additional needs of the child.
The CAF consist of four main parts

A pre-assessment checklist to help decide who would benefit from a common assessment.
A process to enable practitioners in the children and young people’s workforce to undertake a common assessment and then act on the result.
A standard form to record the assessment.
A delivery plan and review form. The assessment covers three domains: development of the child or young person; parents and carers; and family and environment.

The CAF can be used on children from 0 to 19 years and also 19 to 24 years where necessary, and any professional, parent or even child can request that a CAF is undertaken. As with a normal referral you need consent to do a CAF either from the parent, carer or the child.
There are four main stages in completing a common assessment 

Identifying needs early.
Assessing those needs.
Delivering integrated services.
Reviewing progress I have completed a mock CAF form (enclosed) to show how the form is to be completed.

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