The needs of children, young people, and their families are considered on a case by case basis.
The response from professionals is based on an assessment carried out using relevant statutory guidance, which identifies when a threshold has been reached, indicating when a child, young person or family might need support and then to identify where best to get this support from.
Practitioners should always use their professional judgement, experience and training.
The threshold guidance has been compiled by Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership and partners. It meets the requirements of the government's "Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015".
The example indicators in the thresholds matrix (PDF, 223KB) should not be taken literally. Practitioners take account of support and resources available, local policies and Suffolk County Council priorities.
"Local authorities are not expected to meet every individual need, but they are asked to identify the extent of need and then make decisions on the priorities for service provision in their area in the context of that information and their statutory duties"
Children Act 1989 Regulations and Guidance Volumes, Vol 2, paragraph 2.11
Meeting the needs threshold guidance
The meeting the needs threshold guidance (PDF, 1.43MB) brings together information to assist professionals working to meet the needs of all children and young people in Suffolk. The threshold guidance has been compiled by Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership and partners. It meets the requirements of the government's "Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015".
It is designed to help identify when a threshold has been reached, indicating when a child, young person or family might need support and then to identify where best to get this support from.
The Signs of Safety framework of intervention has been adopted by Suffolk County Council. It's a collaborative, evidence-based, solution-focused practice approach which provides a framework to capture and balance concerns and risks alongside safety and hope. The approach is used across all Children’s Services and is known as Suffolk Signs of Safety and Wellbeing. The threshold guidance should be used to inform SOS practice and interventions.
Levels of need
There are four levels of need, as agreed by the Suffolk Safeguarding Partnership.
Level 1: Universal
All children and young people accessing mainstream services with low-level need that can be met by a single agency CAF assessment and Family Network Plan.
Level 2: Low Risk to Vulnerable
Targeted Support - Children with emerging needs or low level child sexual exploitation (CSE) concerns that can be met with the support of a multi-agency CAF assessment and Family Network Plan.
Level 3: Medium Risk
Children with multiple or complex needs including medium risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE) have to be met by targeted services or by a multi-agency CAF assessment or by a child in need (CIN) social work assessment.
Level 4: High Risk
Children and young people who present with complex needs/risk. Including high level child sexual exploitation (CSE) concerns/risk. They will require specialist services and multi-agency statutory response.
It will not always be clear which level of need a child or young person is in. Use the SSP guidance to help you reach a decision.
In a tiered approach it is crucial to ensure a range of service provision is available to meet the needs of children in the community and to ensure that the appropriate services are accessed.
In order for this to be achieved it is important to remember that:
- children and young people can and do move from one level to another, sometimes very quickly.
- children and young people in levels 2 to 4 need and use universal services.
- repeated assessments are not necessary to move children and young people from one tier to another.
- there will be some children and young people who should be enabled to move quickly and effortlessly to the required service response without moving through each level.
- for most children and young people the service aspiration is to secure them as low down the levels of need as possible.
It is expected that most referrals to children's social care will be supported by a common assessment framework (CAF) process.