7.2 The Surrey FaST Resolution Process
The Surrey FaST Resolution Process:
For the resolution of professional disagreements and instigation of responses to exceptional issues in work relating to the safety of children.
Note: If you are concerned about a child who you feel may be suffering from Harm, Neglect or Abuse and you are worried about their safety and wellbeing, then you should raise this immediately with The Surrey Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA)’ at email@example.com or contact the team on 0300 470 9100 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5 pm) and out of hours on 01483 517898 (ask to speak to the Emergency duty team).
- 1. Introduction(Jump to)
- 2. Finding Solutions Together Process: An Overview(Jump to)
- 3. Purpose of the FaST Resolution Policy(Jump to)
- 4. Key Principles(Jump to)
- 5. Who does this Policy apply to?(Jump to)
- 6. When is it appropriate to use the FaST Resolution Process?(Jump to)
- 7. The FaST Resolution Process(Jump to)
- 8. Key Contacts to assist with the FaST Resolution Process(Jump to)
- 9. Evaluating the process(Jump to)
- Appendix 1 - FaST Resolution Form (for use in Stage 5 of the process)(Jump to)
1.1 Safeguarding Partners in Surrey have recognised that the needs of Children and their families can often be complex and may require a range of interventions and support that need to be tailored to meet their differing needs and circumstances.
1.2 Often there may be no right or wrong solution and quite legitimately practitioners may exercise their professional judgement differently and have differing opinions of what the right approach should be. It is also the case that exceptionally, the needs of some young people and families may not easily fit within our conventional application of thresholds.
1.3 It is of vital importance that, children, young people and their families do not become entangled in professional disagreements and that where such disputes do occur, they can be resolved together, with minimum delay.
1.4 In reaching a resolution it is essential that at all times, disputes are approached in a considerate manner and one which both respects and seeks to understand the views and concerns of others when engaging with the young person and their family.
1.5 The Surrey FaST (Finding Solutions Together) resolution process has been agreed with all our partners, as a mechanism for seeking solutions that places the needs of the child and the family at its centre.
1.6 The primary aim of the Surrey FaST resolution process is that professional disagreements are resolved at the lowest possible level, by those working directly with children and families.
1.7 The Surrey FaST resolution process recognises that children are best safeguarded when professionals who support them and their families, work well together through timely, respectful, solution-focused, and child centred communication and coordinated action.
1.8 The Surrey FaST resolution process applies to and should be used by ALL agencies who work with children and families in Surrey.
1.9 Safeguarding Partners in Surrey appreciate that it is not always easy to find the right person to talk to in another agency and that professional judgements need to be made when deciding whether or not a response is reasonable and when to move up to the next stage of the process. The SSCP Business Team are always available to provide support and guidance to agencies, to help with this decision making. They can be contacted at any stage by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
1.10 All key partners have been asked to identify a Single Point of Contact who can assist with this decision making and support colleagues in other agencies to identify the right person to speak with at each stage of the process.
2. Finding Solutions Together Process: An Overview
The chart below shows an overview of the Finding Solutions Together or FaST resolution process. A detailed explanation of these stages is set out at Section 7 of this policy.
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3. Purpose of the FaST Resolution Policy
3.1 To create a transparent process that sets out how disagreements should be dealt with between partner agencies, with regards to professional practice when working with children and their families. Disagreements should be resolved quickly, at the earliest possible level, through child centred discussion between agencies. This FaST policy outlines the process to be followed when professionals are unable to agree about what is in the best interests of the child.
3.2 To identify and anticipate problem areas in working together where there is a lack of clarity and to promote resolution via amendment to protocols and procedures in a timely manner.
3.3 To ensure that where a resolution cannot be found concerns can be escalated in a supportive, timely and inclusive way to safeguard a child in need.
3.4 To avoid disputes that:-
- Detract from the focus on the child.
- Delay effective decision making
- Lead to protracted disputes that negatively impact upon the child and/or family and on inter-agency relationships and working practice.
3.5 Whilst acknowledging that the various partner agencies each have their own threshold policies for providing support to the children and families they work with; it is not possible for these thresholds to envisage all possible scenarios. It is therefore critically important that all professionals appreciate that there will be examples of children who require support but, for one reason or another, do not meet the thresholds for support. In these cases, there is a risk that such children will ‘fall into the gaps’ between these thresholds and fail to receive the assistance they need. Professionals should use the FaST resolution policy to raise such cases and should not be afraid to advocate on behalf of children to achieve the solution they need.
4. Key Principles
4.1 Problem resolution is an integral part of professional co-operation and joint working to safeguard children. All agencies must work together in the interest of the child and it is recognised that at times there are differences of opinion on how to progress a case. Every effort should be made to resolve disagreements as close to the point of origin as possible, and with those working most directly with children.
4.2 At all stages of the FaST resolution process actions and decisions must be shared in a timely manner (within the timescales set out within this policy) with appropriate staff who are directly involved with the service users.
4.3 Decisions should be recorded in writing and the referring member of staff should be kept informed of the progress of their concern. In particular this must include written confirmation between the parties about an agreed outcome of the resolution process and how any outstanding issues will be pursued. All records should be retained on the child’s case file / agency database.
4.4 This policy is not intended to replace or prevent day-to-day communication and joint working between professionals.
4.5 It is the responsibility of all agencies to ensure that their staff are supported to challenge and follow the FaST resolution process appropriately when they have concerns or they disagree with another professional’s practice which places, or could place, a child or young person at risk of harm.
4.6 Effective working together depends upon:
- Placing the safety and wellbeing of children at the centre of all decision making
- An open approach and honest relationships between agencies; and
- A belief in genuine partnership working.
4.7 Resolution should be sought within the shortest timescale possible to ensure the child is protected. Some disagreements regarding safeguarding decisions will require especially speedy resolution.
4.8 It should be recognised that differences in status and/or experience of individual staff may affect the confidence of some workers to pursue their concerns if unsupported and an internal line management process should be in place to address this and to support the FaST resolution process.
4.9 In all cases where a professional believes a child to be at imminent risk of harm, they should refer the case to the Surrey Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) and/or Surrey Police.
5. Who does this Policy apply to?
5.1 This policy applies to and is relevant for all Safeguarding Partners, and all professionals working with children and families in Surrey, in accordance with Working Together 2023 statutory guidance.
Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership:
- Practitioners, managers and leadership within the Local Authority, Health (Surrey’s ICS) and the Police.
- Any other staff working with children.
- Practitioners, managers and leadership within Education, Mindworks Surrey, the Voluntary Sector and any other agencies that work directly with children.
5.2 To reflect the multi-agency practice this policy covers it has been ratified by the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership.
6. When is it appropriate to use the FaST Resolution Process?
6.1 Having different professional perspectives within safeguarding practice is a sign of a healthy and well-functioning partnership. These differences of opinion can usually be resolved by discussion and negotiation between the practitioners concerned. It is essential that where differences of opinion arise, they do not adversely affect the outcomes for children, young people or adults and are resolved in a constructive and timely manner.
6.2 If you can respond “Yes” to ALL of the following THREE questions, then the FaST resolution process is your best course of action:
- Are you concerned about a decision or practice related to a child or young person that you are working with?
- Is the child or young person being put “at risk” of harm as a result?
- Have you already raised your concern through normal channels (e.g. referral to C-SPA, raised your concern in a child protection meeting or team around the child meeting) but not achieved the resolution you wanted for the child?
6.3 If you need advice on whether to use this process or not then guidance is available from the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership email@example.com.
7. The FaST Resolution Process
7.1 This process is managed through the FaST resolution procedure which is outlined in detail in the table below. It is not always clear to professionals if the FaST resolution process is the most appropriate approach to take, and when this happens advice should be sought from the SSCP Business Team who can be contacted by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
7.2 All disputes should be resolved in a timely way, at the earliest possible level, so that the welfare of the child remains paramount. In some situations it may be necessary to instigate all of the stages within a short period of time or to escalate the process so that the safety of the child is not compromised.
7.3 All practitioners have a positive duty to facilitate the use of the FaST resolutions process with other practitioners even when they do not agree that the use of the procedure is necessary. For example, there is a duty to immediately provide relevant contact details for line management where this relates to the necessary next stage in the FaST resolutions process.
7.4 Wherever possible, at each of the Stages, discussions should be carried out between professionals of a similar level of seniority within their respective agencies. This is to avoid situations where there is an imbalance between the seniority of professionals which might inhibit the conduct of an open, frank and balanced discussion about the case.
7.5 For example, it would be appropriate for a School Head Teacher to discuss the disagreement with the member of staff in the relevant organisation of the equivalent seniority, closest to practice in the first instance. If an imbalance arises due to inappropriate escalation, the more junior member of staff should escalate the issue to their line manager, who should do the same until a similar level of seniority between the professionals discussing the case between the agencies is achieved.
7.6 Notwithstanding the above, at all times it should be recognised that the different partnership agencies have different structures and that it may not always be possible for discussions to take place between partnership colleagues of the same equivalent grade. In every case, anyone raising a safeguarding concern/disagreement with a partnership colleague, irrespective of position or grade must be listened to and their concern treated with professionalism and respect.
7.7 All communication between agencies, from Stage 2 onwards, should be documented, ideally within an email. The SSCP must be copied into any communication so that they are aware of current issues and can ensure that the FaST procedure is being used effectively.
7.8 Each agency is also required to keep their own log of any instances where they have used the FaST resolutions process themselves. This log should include a record for each stage of the process; start date, who the concern was raised with, and the outcome or resolution agreed. These logs will provide the information needed to enable the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the resolution process on a regular basis.
Table 1: Stages of the SSCP FaST resolution process
Stage 1: Internal Discussion
Any professional who disagrees with a decision should initially consult with their line manager so that they can discuss the issue to clarify their thinking in order to identify the problem and be specific about what the disagreement is about.
This discussion may help clarify the issues at this stage so that the professional in question no longer disagrees with the decision made by the other professional.
The discussion should take place within two working days of the disagreement or concern arising.
Stage 2: Inter-agency Discussion
Most disagreements can be resolved between professionals by having a discussion about the reasons for the difference of opinion and without having to escalate further. The professional who has a concern should speak to the other professional to better understand their position and discuss their concern. These discussions should be conducted in an open and professional manner without the need for either party to be accusatory or defensive. At all times the needs of the child should be paramount.
From Stage 2 onwards any communication between agencies should be documented and the SSCP copied in. email@example.com
The discussion should take place within two working days of the completion of Stage 1 above.
Stage 3: Team / Service Manager
If the professionals are not able to resolve their disagreement at Stage Two their disagreement must be reported to their line managers or second-tier managers or equivalent. In most cases the relevant line managers /second-tier managers will be able to resolve the disagreement between them.
The purpose of this contact is to review the available information and to resolve the concern. Any action agreed should be fed back immediately to the relevant professionals and the detail of the dispute and agreements reached should be recorded on the child’s file.
Any communication between agencies should be documented (ideally in an email) and the SSCP copied in. firstname.lastname@example.org
The line manager should make contact with their opposite number in the partner agency within two working days of the completion of the Stage 2 above.
Stage 4: Heads/Directors of Service.
Where it is not possible to resolve the disagreement at second-tier management level (Stage Four), the matter should be referred without delay to Heads/Directors of Service.
The purpose of this contact is to review the available information and to resolve the concern. Any action agreed should be fed back immediately to the relevant professionals and the detail of the conflict and agreements reached should be recorded on the child’s file.
The purpose of escalating the dispute to this level is to reach a position where differing professional opinions have been taken into account and efforts made to explore whether the dispute has arisen through lack of clarity or understanding in the professional dialogue. Ultimately a decision will need to be reached where agencies agree a way forward where the interests of the child take precedence over a professional stalemate.
Any communication between agencies should be documented and the SSCP copied in. email@example.com
The Heads/Directors of Service should make contact with their opposite number in the partner agency within two working days of the completion of Stage 3 above.
Stage 5: Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership (‘SSCP’)
In the unlikely event that the professional disagreement remains, the disagreement should be escalated to the Partnership Development Manager at the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership to seek a multi-agency resolution. This can be done by completing the form at Appendix 1 and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Partnership Development Manager will then make contact with the person (s) who represents the organisation on the Partnership or its Executive Group to seek a final resolution. The learning from this resolution meeting or review will be disseminated to all parties within one month of the meeting or review.
Any action agreed should be fed back immediately to the Heads of Service and Second tier management staff involved with details of the agreements reached.
A referral should be made to the SSCP by or on behalf of the Heads/Directors of Service within two working days of the completion of Stage 4 above using the form at Appendix 1.
8. Key Contacts to assist with the FaST Resolution Process
Children’s Social Care
Contact the Business Support Team at email@example.com
| Single point of contact for escalations - HEALTH
Contact P-Spa at - MASHDSs@surrey.police.uk or call 01483 636451 during office hours
Mind Works Surrey
Safeguarding Team at Surrey and Borders Partnership
Surrey Safeguardin Children Partnership
SSCP Business Support Team
9. Evaluating the process
9.1 This process will be evaluated at least once every quarter by the SSCP, to ensure that it is being used appropriately and effectively. To complete this evaluation the SSCP will request that each agency supplies data from their own FaST resolutions log (as mentioned above in 8).