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NEW Child welfare: Where to refer vulnerable children before reaching crisis point – 8 September

Information on a new child intervention service by charity Barnardo’s and the Department for Education 

How GPs can refer to a new early intervention service during Covid-19

Download the full briefing for GPs here 

What is See, Hear, Respond?

  • Rapid, early intervention, to minimise harm to children and young people who don’t meet the threshold for statutory support during the Covid-19 crisis in England
  • Funded by the Department for Education and managed by Barnardo’s.
  • Delivered by the See, Hear, Respond Partnership. Our partners include large charities such as NSPCC, The Children’s Society and Action for Children, and smaller local charities and agencies who are well-respected in their communities.
  • There is no minimum threshold for referral.  We will support children from pre-birth up to 18 years of age, and those with special educational needs under the age of 25.

What’s the need?

  • It’s harder than ever for children and young people to get the help they need.
  • They can feel isolated and alone
  • Hidden harms like online grooming, inequalities amongst BAME communities, criminal and sexual exploitation, and domestic abuse are increasing.
  • Children who would benefit from rapid, early support to prevent harm do not meet the threshold for statutory support. 
  • There is additional strain on family relationships and physical and mental health. 
  • Pressures include finance, home schooling responsibilities and caring for other family members who are shielding.  

What can healthcare professionals do?

  • This service is not a substitute for existing statutory support.  If a child is at risk of significant harm, refer them to your usual Children’s Services safeguarding team.
  • This service is unlikely to be the best option for a long-term child-in-need support. Refer children in need of long-term support into your early help hub or child-in-need process. 
  • Raise awareness amongst your colleagues and in your community, using our online range of resources including posters for your office and social media graphics.
  • You may attend households where it is clear families need help and children need support.
  • You may encounter children who are disengaged from their usual support network, struggling with anxiety and poor mental health, and/or being relied on for support by adults they help care for.
  • You can refer these families and children to See, Hear, Respond.
  • You may also work with new parents who need extra support and reassurance, or parents who, because of their own adverse experiences, are struggling to provide their usual levels of care or support for their children.
  • You can refer these families and children to See, Hear, Respond. Where the mental health and physical health of children is adversely affected, we will work alongside health colleagues to plug the gaps.

How will See Hear Respond help?

  • It’s a new service aimed at those children who are not receiving support, or who have not met statutory thresholds.
  • With the help of the police and other agencies, until 31 October 2020, we will identify children in need of rapid, early intervention to prevent harm.
  • They and their families are struggling with the consequences of COVID-19 and wider problems, and would benefit from immediate help in the short term. 
  • We want to help families that have disengaged from education, support services or whose usual support has stopped during this period. 
  • See, Hear, Respond is open to any child, who does not have other support networks, who you are concerned about. 
  • There is no minimum threshold of need or harm – early intervention aims to prevent higher thresholds being reached.
  • We believe those most at risk of harm include those children who are:

– At risk of any form of abuse in the home or out in the community including criminal or sexual exploitation

– Disabled or who have special educational needs and may have other associated harms such as adverse home-life or online harm

– Experiencing anxiety, stress and other mental health difficulties

– Under 5 years old

– From black, asian or minority ethnic (BAME) communities

– Young carers

What can children and families expect?

One or more forms of support that most effectively meets their needs:

barnardos see hear respond

barnardos see hear respond

  • Rapid, short-term support to help de-escalate issues.
  • Support reintegration to school, and agencies where children’s needs can be met in the longer term. 
  • Complementing the work of our statutory service partners during this difficult period and filling local gaps where possible.
  • Referral into statutory services when early intervention identifies that this is necessary.  We will continue to support children until these families can be safely supported by the relevant services. 

How do I refer a family?

  • It is always preferable to talk to a family and get consent to refer where possible.  
  • Call free on 0800 157 7015 or complete the secure online referral form at
  • Children and families can also call to self-refer or complete the online form.
  • Families will be contacted directly by a specialist Barnardo’s worker to identify and deploy appropriate support through one or more of our three support channels.

How do I refer groups of children at risk outside of home?

  • Call free on 0800 157 7015 – do not use the secure online referral form for groups of children.
  • For groups of children at risk of harm or risky behaviour, who would benefit from engagement (such as hanging out in schools grounds, parks or shopping centres).
  • Trained youth workers will engage in street-based safeguarding conversations to create a safer environment for all.

We want to work with you to make sure as many children and families as possible can access support at this critical time.  Please talk to us if you need any further information on 0800 157 7015. Thank you for supporting this vital work to protect children and young people from harm.

Source: Information provided to Pulse by Barnardo’s [accessed on 8 September]