Parents & Carers
Welcome to Lewisham Parents & Carers pages
Welcome to the LSCB parent and carer pages. Here you will find key information about some of the safeguarding challenges facing children, young people and their parents today, along with links to support, advice and guidance on keeping them safe.
Getting help early
Children of any age can experience problems at times, and parents or carers can’t always meet their needs by themselves. When children do require some extra support it’s always best to put help in place before things worse.
Throughout your child’s life there are people around you can go to get advice, guidance and support, for example:
- Health Visitors, GPs
- Children’s Centres, nurseries
- Other workers you might be in contact with such as Youth Workers, PSCOs or Housing Officers
Go to the Family Information Service website for more information
If you are worried about the safety of a child go to the worried about a child page
If you are a parent of a child with a special educational need or disability you may find more information here
There are some national organisations that offer support for parents around specific safeguarding issues. You will find links to these in the relevant pages.
Supporting Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Age 0-25
The Local Offer website is a collaboration between parents and carers of disabled children, young people and Lewisham Council to help you find what is available in the area for those with Special Education Needs or Disabilities (ages 0-25) and how to access a variety of services. These range from health, social care and education to respite, leisure facilities, support groups and the voluntary sector.
Private fostering involves an arrangement made without the involvement of the local authority between the carer and the child’s parent/s or person with parental responsibility, regardless of whether money is exchanged and that arrangement is intended to last 28 days or more (the child is not a Looked After Child). Please click here for more information.
Domestic abuse is any incident of controlling, co-ercive, threatening behavior, violence or abuse:
- between people aged over 16
- who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members
It can happen to anyone, regardless of age, social background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity, and can begin at any stage of the relationship.
Domestic abuse can be:
Domestic abuse can also include forced marriage and so-called “honour crimes”.
It’s abuse if your partner or a family member:
- puts you down, or attempts to undermine your self-esteem
- controls you, for example by stopping you seeing your friends and family
- is jealous and possessive, such as being suspicious of your friendships and conversations
- frightens you
Domestic abuse and safeguarding children
Children who live in families where there is domestic abuse can suffer serious long-term emotional and psychological effects. Even if they are not physically harmed or do not witness acts of violence, they can pick up on the tensions and harmful interactions between adults.
If you are worried about a child living in a family where domestic abuse may be an issue got to: What to do if you’re worried about the safety of a child
What is domestic violence
The Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 defines domestic violence as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between adults who are, or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.’
Types of domestic violence
- Physical: being hit
- Sexual: rape, sexual assault, degrading treatment
- Financial: having money withheld or being forbidden from getting a job
- Social: not being allowed to see friends and family or go out
- Psychological: constantly telling someone they are worthless and so reducing their self-esteem and confidence
- Emotional: telling a person their children will be taken from them if they leave or that no one else will love them
How does domestic violence affect children
Children will learn their behaviour from examples set by other people around them and exposure to domestic violence teaches children negative things about people and their relationships. For instance:
- It teaches them that violence is acceptable and that they can use it
- They learn how to keep secrets
- They learn to mistrust those close to them
Being exposed to domestic violence can have a long-lasting effect on children which could affect their ability to form relationships in the future, including:
- Blaming themselves for the violence
- Feeling frightened
- Becoming withdrawn
- Running away
- Behavioural difficulties
- Problems with school
- Poor concentration
- Emotional turmoil
- Lack of respect
- Loss of self-confidence
Who to contact
POLICE: 101 or in an emergency 999
CHILDLINE: 0800 11 11
NSPCC: 0808 800 5000
PARENTLINE: 0808 800 2222
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELPLINE: 0808 2000 247
Private fostering is when a child or young person aged under 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) is cared for and provided with accommodation for 28 days or more by an adult who is not a close relative.
A close relative is an aunt, uncle, step parent, grandparent or sibling, but not a cousin, great aunt/uncle or family friend.
A private fostering arrangement is normally organised between the parent and carer. There are many private fostering situations. These may involve children or young people:
- who are sent to this country for education or health care by their birth parents from overseas
- whose parents work or study long or antisocial hours
- who are living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation, divorce or arguments at home
- who are living with their partner’s family.
What do I have to do if I am privately fostering or my child is privately fostered?
Any parent, private foster carer, or anyone else involved in making a private fostering arrangement, must notify the council for the area in which the child will be or is placed.
You have a responsibility to ensure that your child is in a suitable and safe private fostering arrangement that provides for your child’s cultural, religious, linguistic and other needs.
If you think that your child will be in this placement for 28 days or longer, you have a legal duty to tell the Council at least six weeks before the arrangement is due to start. If the arrangement is due to start within six weeks or is already in place, then you must tell the MASH team at the Council immediately.
The law states that you must tell us of a private fostering arrangement, this information will help us ensure that your child is well looked after and does not come to any harm.
A private fostering arrangement does not mean that you are giving up your rights to your child. This is a temporary arrangement and you still have parental responsibility and will continue to be involved in all decisions about your child’s life. It is very important that you stay in contact with your child as much as possible. By staying in contact, you will know of any changes in the circumstances of the carer (for example if they go on holiday or move house).
What if I already privately foster but did not know that it I had to tell the Council?
You should contact us and explain the situation. We will be pleased to take your details and explain the first stage of the assessment process. Please remember that if you are involved in a private fostering arrangement and you don’t notify us you are committing an offence, and could risk a fine.
If you are involved, or likely to be involved in a private fostering arrangement and have not already told, or if you are in any doubt as to whether the regulations might apply to you, you should seek advice from the Lewisham MASH team.
Why does the Council need to get involved?
We have a legal duty to ensure that your child is being looked after safely and that the arrangement is suitable for your child. We will make regular visits to your child and his or her private foster carer, and we can provide help and advice where necessary.
If the private foster carer is not giving you enough information or you are unhappy about the standard of care your child is receiving, then you should contact us as soon as possible. Together we will do our best to ensure that your child is safe and well looked after.
Phone Lewisham MASH team on telephone number 020 8314 9181 or 020 8314 6660 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Private fostering referral and assessment team telephone number 020 8314 6523
Private Fostering Fact Sheet
Is Someone Else Looking After Your Child?
Are You Looking After Someone Else's Child?
Who is Looking After You?
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or cot death, is the sudden and unexplained death of a baby where no cause is found. While SIDS is rare, it can still happen day or night and there are steps parents and carers can take to help reduce the chance of this tragedy occurring.
Things you can do:
- Always place your baby on their back to sleep
- Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
- Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
- Breastfeed your baby, if you can
- Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition
Things to avoid:
- Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
- Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink, take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low-birth weight
- Avoid letting your baby get too hot
- Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding
For further advice and guidance on safer sleeping for your baby:
Visit the Lullaby Trust
Self-harm can be really hard to understand but it is a lot more common than some people think. Between 1 in 12 and 1 in 15 people self-harm.
Self-harming is when a young person chooses to inflict pain on themselves in some way.
If you are self-harming, you may be:
- cutting or burning yourself
- biting your nails excessively
- developing an eating disorder
- taking an overdose of tablets
- taking drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol
It is usually a sign that something is wrong.
You may self-harm for many reasons, including if you are:
- feeling anxious, depressed or stressed
- if you are being bullied
- feeling that you do not have a support network or way to deal with your problems
The issues then ‘build up’ to the point where you feel like you are going to explode. Young people who self-harm often talk about the ‘release’ that they feel after they have self-harmed, as they use it as a mechanism to cope with their problems.
Self-harming is dangerous. It is a sign that you have an underlying problem, but if it gets out of hand you could risk killing yourself, maybe accidentally.
Getting help to deal with some of these underlying issues is often key to overcoming or managing self-harm.
Where to get help
If you are worried about your or a friend’s self-harming it’s helpful to talk about it with someone you trust. Go to our what to do if you are worried about yourself or a friend page to find out more.
The Young Minds website has helpful information for more understanding about self-harm.
The National self-harm network has some very helpful leaflets you can download for free, such as:
- What is self-harm?
- Advice for friends, family and carers
- Advice for young people
- Basic first aid
- Distraction lists
If you are an adult worried about a child or young person’s self-harming
For children up to the age of 18 contact
Lewisham Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Services (CAMHS) on 020 7138 1249 and
ask to speak to duty clinician for advice.
Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse, in which a young person is manipulated, or forced into taking part in a sexual act. This could be as part of a seemingly consensual relationship, or in return for attention, affection, money, drugs, alcohol or somewhere to stay. The young person may think that their abuser is their friend, or even a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The abuser may physically or verbally threaten the young person or be violent towards them. They will control and manipulate them, and try to isolate them from friends and family. It happens to boys and young men as well as girls and young women. The victims of abuse are not at fault. Abusers are very clever in the way they manipulate and take advantage of the young people they abuse.
What to do:
If you are worried a child or young person is at risk of sexual exploitation go to: What to do if you’re worried about the safety of a child
For further advice speak to Barnardo’s specialist sexual exploitation project 01489 796684
For practical advice on what to do if your child goes missing see the Children’s Society Guidance:
How does Sexual Exploitation happen?
Many sexually exploited young people have been ‘groomed’ by an abusing adult who befriends the young person and makes them feel special by buying them gifts or giving them lots of attention. Young people may be targeted on-line or in person. Young people who are having difficulties at home, regularly go missing or have experienced care may be particularly vulnerable.
What are the signs?
Children and young people that are the victims of sexual exploitation often do not recognise that they are being exploited. However, there are a number of telltale signs that a child may be being groomed for sexual exploitation. These include:
- going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
- regularly missing school or not taking part in education
- appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
- associating with other young people involved in exploitation
- having older boyfriends or girlfriends
- suffering from sexually transmitted infections
- mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
- drug and alcohol misuse
- displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
What can I do as a parent or a carer?
As a parent or carer, it is important to discuss with children the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships to help highlight potential risks to them. There are also a number of practical steps you can take to protect children such as:
- staying alert to changes in behaviour or any physical signs of abuse such as bruising
- being aware of new, unexplained gifts or possessions
- carefully monitoring any episodes of staying out late or not returning home
- exercising caution around older friends your child may have, or relationships with other young people where there appears to be a power imbalance
- making sure you understand the risks associated with your child being on-line and putting measures in place to minimise these risks.
Staying Safe On-line
The internet is a great way for children and young people to connect with others and learn new things. It’s important that they learn how to do this safely. This video highlights a social experiment “Follow me” by Barnardos. We want to help you keep your child safe online just like you do in the real world.
Top Tips for Parents and Carers of Children & Young People in The Digital World
The LSCB offer a free Online Safety E-Learning course for Parents / Carers that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Please follow the instructions at the bottom of this page.
To help your child to enjoy the experience of accessing the digital world we recommend you talk to your child about keeping themselves safe and what to do if they see or hear something that they find upsetting, like taking a screen shot of the evidence and reporting concerns to the site administrator, or the police via www.ceop.police.uk . Remind them they can close the App or website at any time, and most importantly to talk to you if they are worried or upset.
Web based information and social networking sites can increase the risk of a child or young person being groomed for sexual exploitation, criminal activity, general exploitation, or violent extremism. It is common for the child or young person to not recognise they are being exploited or groomed. The best way to make sure they stay safe is to have regular, open conversations with your child. You can also look through the history browser to see what websites have been accessed. If you do become worried that your child is being radicalised you can contact the Prevent Team, on 020 8314 6000 or email email@example.com. You can also report any other exploitation or abuse that takes place online the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 020 8314 6660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes children and young people don’t think about the images they post online or share with their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”. In response to this, the government have issued guidance for children and young people on the sharing of indecent images, this can be read here:
Online gaming via consoles, phones, and apps can provide a child access to talking to strangers and building “virtual friendships”. It is important your child understands it can be dangerous to share personal information as the person may not be who they say they are. Have a conversation with your child about this, particularly in case your child considers meeting up with someone they have spoken to online. If you do agree to this, we recommend you meet with them too, as they may not be who they say they are and it could lead to your child being harmed.
When considering buying a game or app for your child, think about the recommended age restriction and research the game on YouTube first. You may be surprised at the level of violence or content of some games and it may not be appropriate for your child’s age.
We recommend you keep your knowledge and skills of staying safe in a digital world up-to-date and by regularly by looking at the ThinkUKnow website: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ and talking to your child about their experiences.
Take the Free online 30 minute course
Aims & Objectives:
Parents and Carers of Children and Young People in Lewisham.
What do children do online? What are the risks? How can I keep children safe online? This course looks at the risks associated with online and mobile technology and demonstrates ways that you can help create a safer digital environment for children and young people.
- Know the risks associated with mobile and online technology.
- Know how to tackle these risks.
The two links used for the Lewisham training portal are:
- For new users, the self-registration link is: https://lewisham.melearning.university/course_centre (registration key is @Lewisham) – once you send off a request, you will receive a welcome email containing your log in details usually within 24 hours.
- For users who already have an account, the log in link is https://lewisham.melearning.university/user/login (please write down your login and password and keep it safe)
NSPCC On-line Safety has advice and tools to help keep your child safe online.
Think You Know provides advice on online parenting. There is also further information at Think You Know training.
Child Exploitation & Online Protection (CEOP)
CEOP is there to support young people, parents and carers while surfing online, and offers help and advice on topics such as:
- harmful content
It also enables people to immediately report anything online which they find concerning, such as harmful or inappropriate content, or possible grooming behaviour. For more information, or to report concerns, simply click on the CEOP Icon
People trafficking is the movement of people from one area to another by use of force or threat for the purpose of some form of exploitation, such as sexual exploitation, domestic slavery, forced marriage, labour exploitation including in cannabis factories, forcing a young person to commit crimes, drug dealing, credit card fraud, benefit fraud, ritual sacrifice and organ donation.
Traffickers can be male and female and control young people by threatening to report them to the authorities, telling them they owe large sums of money, or by threats of violence to them or their families.
Signs of Trafficking include:
- Receives unexplained or unidentified telephone calls
- Going missing from the home or placement
- Signs of abuse or unwanted pregnancy
- Is required to earn a minimum amount of money each day
- Forced to perform excessive household chores
- Prevented from leaving the house event to attend school or college
- Talks of a large amount of debt they owe
- Is excessively afraid of being deported
Further information or resources:
See the London Procedures for the local protocol and national guidance
Worried about the safety of a child?
If you think a child is being abused or neglected please contact the Lewisham Council Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). If you think a child or young person is at IMMEDIATE risk, you should treat this as an emergency and call 999 to report your concerns to the Police. You can contact the MASH during office hours.
Tel: 020 8314 6660
The out of office hours (5pm -8am weekdays, weekends and Bank Holidays) is: 020 8314 6000 and ask for the emergency duty team.
When you contact the MASH please give as much information as possible about the child you are concerned about. This will help the MASH decide the best way to respond to your concern. The information you give will be kept confidential. You can remain anonymous but it is helpful if you can give your name and details.
The MASH is the service to contact if you want extra help for a child or their family who live in Lewisham. The team is multi-agency and brings together services such as from social care, education, health, police and children centres. The MASH aims to work together to offer the right help at an early stage to families who need support. They will decide the most appropriate type of support to offer. Depending on your relationship with the child they may be able to keep you updated.
Child Exploitation & On-line Protection
CEOP is there to support young people, parents and carers while surfing online, and offers help and advice on topics such as:
- harmful content
It also enables people to immediately report anything online which they find concerning, such as harmful or inappropriate content, or possible grooming behaviour.
For more information or to report a concern click on the CEOP icon
GUIDELINES FOR PROFESSIONALS / AGENCIES / PARENTS
These guidelines are intended for any parent, professional or agency wishing to make a referral to Lewisham Young Carers Service on behalf of a child or young person within a caring role. Please read these guidelines carefully before completing the attached referral forms.
Who can you make a referral for?
Any Young Carer between the ages of 5 and 18 can be referred to our services that are residents or their cared for is someone who lives within the borough of Lewisham:
- Providing care or support for someone with a physical disability, long term illness, mental ill health or substance misuse.
- Is affected by the condition of their cared for.
We will prioritise the service to young carers with the highest need as a result of the significant impact of the caring role and level of caring responsibilities.
The level of priority for each Young Carers may fluctuant throughout the lifetime of their involvement in the service due to sudden changes in their caring situation.
How to make a referral?
Please complete all the pages of our Referral Form and send to:
Waldram Place, Forest Hill
London, SE23 2LB
Tel: 0208 699 8686 | Fax: 0208 699 0634
What happens now?
On receipt of the referral we will look at the information you have given us and prioritise the need for assessment. The outcome will be either:
- Young carer does not meet the criteria for a young carer and no assessment will take place.
- Young carer is allocated to a member of the young carers team for a home visit.
- Further information is needed from the referrer before processing any further.
Referrers will be informed of the outcome via telephone or email within 4 weeks. If you have not heard from us please contact us on 0208 699 8686.
If allocated for assessment, a young carers support officer will make contact with the family to arrange a home visit to gain better understanding about the young carer’s family’s situation and decide on what support services they will be offered.
If you have any questions throughout the referral or assessment process, please do not hesitate to contact us.