What is a Multi Agency Support Group?
When families and practitioners who are helping them need more support, cases can be discussed at one of our three locality-based Multi Agency Support Group panels (MASGs). These panels are made up of representatives of services across the city, who use their skills, knowledge and expertise to consider early help interventions that will meet the identified needs of a child and/or family.
The panel is made up of representatives from Youth in Localities, Adult Social Care, Police, Domestic Abuse Services, Early Years, Children's Social Care, Local Authority Attendance, Youth Offending Services, Local Authority Housing, Cross Keys Homes, Health, Substance misuse services, Locality based Children's Centre and the Department of Work and Pensions.
Access to the panels is via a completed Early Help Assessment. Our online database, Early Help Module (previously known as ECAF) is our system for recording and supporting families through the early help process.
What are the responsibilities of Multi Agency Support Group members?
Every member is there to:
- represent their service
- bring their experience and skills to the group
- liaise and feed back information to their own service or organisation about referrals to MASG
promote MASG within their service or organisation
- be able to agree to allocate work from MASG on behalf of their service or organisation
- bring local knowledge about services and the communities they work in
- be a Lead Professional or be able to allocate to the most appropriate practitioner within their
organisation who will become the Lead Professional
- attend multi agency training which will support their role within the MASG
How are referrals made to the Multi Agency Support Group?
Referrals are sent to the CAF co-ordinator for the locality concerned. Any agency or organisation can refer to the MASG using a CAF assessment. Referrers must ensure they follow appropriate information sharing guidance to obtain consent from young people/families prior to referring to the MASG.
MASG will accept any referrals that require a multi agency approach. However, those cases where it is clear which agencies will need to be involved to support a family and there are no obstacles in getting the work started do not need to be referred to MASG – the MASG is there to assist with cases where it is either not clear which agencies should be involved, or where attempts have been made to develop a multi-agency support plan, but these have been frustrated for some reason.
MASG will also consider transition packages of support to enable children and young people who have been/or are Looked After or in hospital and those with complex needs (including children who have recently been subject to a child in need or protection plan) to be supported in their local community.
Processing the Referral
Referrals for a single agency should go straight from the referrer to the agency identified, using the appropriate agency referral form. The CAF co-ordinator will advise if the referrer is unsure if a single agency or multi-agency approach is required.
CAFs referred to the MASG that require a multi agency approach are reviewed by the CAF Co-ordinator. The co-ordinator will either contact the referrer for more information and if inappropriate for the MASG, the co-ordinator will discuss with the referrer. For appropriate referrals the co-ordinator will arrange for a discussion at a MASG meeting.
While there is no requirement for a referrer to attend the MASG, it is often helpful if they can be there, as they can often provide additional information about the needs of the children, young people and family concerned. Referrers will therefore be given a time slot for when their case will be discussed and are asked to confirm whether or not they will be attending.
MASG meetings will be held fortnightly in each locality. The CAF team will ensure agendas and background information is sent to attendees ahead of the meeting.
After the MASG meeting, a decision sheet will be sent to the referrer by the CAF team. This will include details of services agreed by the panel to support the family and the agreed identified temporary Lead Professional.
The referrer must then share this information with the family and if the family agree to accept services agreed by the MASG, the referrer will then advise the Lead Professional. The identified Lead Professional will liaise with services that have been agreed and set up a 'Team Around the Child' meeting, with the family, to agree how services will work together to meet the needs of the child, young person and family. This will include setting future meetings to review work. CAF co-ordinators can assist Lead Professionals.
Monitoring the Referral
The MASG will set a review date where the effectiveness of the package of support can be assessed and to enable further or different resources to be accessed if necessary. A decision will be taken at this first review as to whether further reviews within the MASG are likely to be needed.
Where it is agreed that further reviews by the MASG are not needed, the CAF co-ordinator will contact the Lead Professional 12 weeks after the case was last reviewed by MASG to ascertain the outcomes of the work to date. Should the Lead Professional, in consultation with the family and other agencies involved, decide that further discussion and support from the MASG is needed, they can re-refer the family to MASG at any time.
When the interventions have been completed and the case has been closed, the Lead Professional, normally from the last agency involved, will complete a final review form and send it to the CAF co-ordinator as part of the closure of the referral.
The Lead Professional is able to contact the CAF co-ordinator at any time for advice and guidance.