I am Karen Owen, the team manager for the Integrated Access Team (IAT) and Emergency Duty Team (EDT), part of our role is protecting vulnerable children in Cambridgeshire.
My team, of 24 including social workers, a specialist nurse and locality advisors, receives up to 3000 contacts/concerns a month. These all need to be assessed so we can identify those at risk and take the necessary action.
This can involve social workers working with parents, children and professionals involved with the family to get an accurate account of what is happening. This assessments can be through home visits or over the phone depending on the circumstances. The assessment is then signed off by myself or one of my colleagues and either closed as no further action is needed or referred for further support.
One of the key ways we protect children is by working in with partner agencies to ensure we share information and identify those most at risk as quickly as possible. As well as working in the same location as partners like the police and Child Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH), we also take part in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
The MASH provides a secure environment where each partner can share information to help inform the decision making process ensuring commonality of risk assessment countrywide with the key agencies involved.
Child Protection cases are dealt with as a matter of urgency with multi agency face-to-face strategy discussions being held where possible within two hours of receipt of concern.
Through the EDT we provide an out of hours emergency social care and mental health service for the county.
My colleague and I work alternate weekends, in order to support staff and provide management oversight, as well as working on a shift basis ensuring one of us is in the office until 8pm on weekdays.
Working within the IAT is a challenge; there are never enough hours in the day. However, it’s a role I enjoy and I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to do anything else. Co-locating has proved beneficial to both partner agencies and service users.
It is so rewarding to know that our work helps to protect vulnerable children and I would urge anyone who has any concerns about a child to pick up the phone and get in touch.
I would rather my team investigate a concern and find nothing wrong than have a child suffer in silence because someone didn’t make that call.
There are a number of ways you can get in touch: