An introduction to children’s social care

Sometimes a child, young person or their family needs some extra support to keep them well and safe.  Families can require different levels of support at different times. This article explains what children’s social care is and how it supports families.

Different services are responsible for supporting and protecting vulnerable families or children.  This includes providing them with extra help to prevent their needs escalating.

In South Gloucestershire, children’s social care aims to work with parents, carers and young people in a partnership based on respect, equality and fairness.

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What is children’s social care?

Children’s social care promotes and safeguards the wellbeing of children and young people who are ‘in need’.  This is defined as those who would suffer if they did not get help.

Social care professionals, such as social workers, make assessments and provide a range and level of services appropriate to these in order to support parents to care for their children.  By law, children’s social care has to provide services and give priority to children with specific categories of need.

Children’s social care can provide support and help to children and their parents if the child:

  • needs support with maintaining their health or development
  • has a disability
  • is in need of protection
  • is fostered, adopted or lives in residential care

A social care professional can provide practical advice and information that help the family. They might: 

  • do an assessment of your child’s and family’s needs
  • provide immediate help, 
  • give you information about other support organisations that could help
  • involve other professionals when assessing the  help  your child or you may need.

Support provided to children and families is normally categorised into one of the following:

Universal - services and provision open to everyone.

Targeted - for children and young people (or their families) with multiple needs, or who may need additional support to access services.

Statutory, or Specialist - for children and young people with severe and/or complex needs, who are likely to require even more support than is available either through universal or targeted services.

Different teams for different needs

Children’s social care services in South Gloucestershire are delivered by the following teams:

Access and Response Team – the ‘front door’ of children’s and young people’s services in South Gloucestershire Council. This team assess what may be required to support a family, and can refer onto the other teams listed below as required. You can find their contact details under ‘What to do if you need help or support’ below.

Compass Team – formally known as the Early Help Team, this team helps families and workers to navigate to the right place for advice and support on how and where to access appropriate early help.

Social work locality teams – these teams are based in Kingswood, Patchway and Yate, covering North, South and Central areas. They support statutory work such as safeguarding and child protection matters.

Looked After Team – this team work with children and young people up to their 18th birthday who become looked after when their birth parents are unable to provide ongoing care in either a temporary or permanent capacity.  We also support young adults leaving care aged between 18-25, ensuring they have the support and accommodation they need to make a successful transition to adulthood.

Adoption and Fostering Team –This team works with Adoption West to secure adopters for children where adoption is the plan.  The Fostering team recruit, assess and support foster carers who care for our looked after young people.

0-25 Social Work Team – this team provides statutory services for disabled children and families who meet the criteria for support.  Not every child or young person with a disability or special educational need (SEND) will require a specialist service from this team. If one or more of your children have, or you think they may have special educational needs or a disability you may find it helpful to visit our SEND Local Offer website

These teams will all use different ways to assess needs, depending on the level of support or services they provide.

What to do if you need help or support

If you need help or support, it can be useful to talk to someone who knows your child; for example a teacher from their school, or perhaps a leader from any groups or clubs they attend.

National organisations such as Family Lives operate a confidential helpline where you can speak to an advisor for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life.

This website, Find information for adults, children and families, provides a wealth of information and advice, designed to help families understand what’s available in their local areas.  You can browse the categories, or search for specific topics, such as childcare, youth clubs or support groups.

If you think you may need additional support, or you need to speak to someone about an issue or concern you are having with your child or family you can contact the Access and Response Team (ART).  The ART team handle calls from the public, and will gather information about any concerns before assessing each case and determining the next appropriate steps.

You can contact the ART team on the following numbers:

01454 866000 ‐ Monday to Thursday 9am ‐ 5pm

01454 866000 ‐ Friday 9am ‐ 4.30pm

If you are concerned about the safety of a child, call the following numbers:

01454 866000 ‐ Monday to Thursday 9am ‐ 5pm

01454 866000 ‐ Friday 9am ‐ 4.30pm

01454 615165 ‐ Out of hours and at weekends

In an emergency always ring 999.