A professional’s guide to FASS – Oxfordshire

Our team

We are the Family Assessment Safeguarding Service (FASS), part of specialist CAMHS services within Oxford Health NHS Trust.

We work with parents, across Oxfordshire, where there are safeguarding concerns and complex relational difficulties within the family network, directly impacting on the parent and child relationship.

We are a multidisciplinary mental health team, with expertise in attachment, family trauma, and family relationships.

We help families, and the network supporting them, when there are concerns about risk and /or harm to children in their direct care.

We provide parent and child evidence-based interventions. Our work is guided by NICE recommendations for the therapeutic needs of this client population.

We work directly with parents focussing on the emotional side of parenting.

Our therapeutic input seeks to protect children from harm by building on parents’ capacity for attentive, attuned, and sensitive caregiving.

What we offer

Consultation to professionals

Specialist mental health consultation and advice to professionals who are working with families where children are at risk of significant harm.

Therapeutic support for families

We offer assessment and evidence-based therapeutic interventions with parents and/or parent and child work, including:

  • Video Interaction Guidance (VIG)
  • Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT) parenting group programme.


Who to refer

Families open to Oxfordshire County Council children’s safeguarding teams, where there are significant safeguarding concerns for the children in the parents care and where the presenting difficulties are understood within a relational framework of the parent and child relationship.

For example:

  • Concerns about severe relational breakdown between parent and child. Parental mental health and/or parental relational difficulties impacting on the relationship between parent and child.
  • Inter-generational parenting patterns that are perpetuating and /or maintaining risks within the family network.
  • Parents with complex and/or unresolved early life histories which and are now impacting on their parenting of their children.
  • History of severe parenting breakdown and where there may be difficulties with the parent separating their own needs from their child’s emotional needs.
  • Where there have been repeated referrals to social care without longer term resolution of underlying relationship difficulties.


Who not to refer

In the following circumstances, we would not recommend a referral to FASS:

  • We do not offer therapy for parents who pose a risk of sexual harm to children in their care.
  • We are not a crisis intervention service and safeguarding timescales for the children should not be compromised to align with possible parental changes.
  • Where the primary safeguarding issue is emotional harm to children caused by extreme parental acrimony over custody. This may include cases where one or both parents make false allegations against the other; or undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent.
  • To support contact (family time) after permanent removal if there is no plan for permanent reunification with a parent.
  • We are not commissioned to be instructed by legal parties for independent expert witness assessments for family court. When families we work with are in care proceedings, FASS can provide regular clinical updates to social care about treatment progress.
  • We do not routinely accept referrals for families in care proceedings. However, we may consider a referral in special circumstances, but only where the court supports reunification and where there has been evidence of meaningful engagement with services that is likely to effect meaningful change for the children. A referral to FASS would not guarantee therapy for the family, so we would always urge court to take this into consideration with any interim or permanent care decisions.

How to refer

Referrals can be made by the family’s allocated social worker and/or mental health practitioner.

When you make a referral, we will typically offer a professional consultation in the first instance before we consider meeting with the family.

We ask that you seek the family’s consent to consult with us.

In some complex cases, a referral can be made on safeguarding grounds without seeking consent.

To request a referral form, please email us.

Email: FASS@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

General guidance: Contact us

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Trust Headquarters,
Littlemore Mental Health Centre, Sandford Road, Littlemore, Oxford OX4 4XN

  • Switchboard: 01865 901 000
  • Email: enquiries@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk
  • Website: www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk

Become a member of our Foundation Trust: www.ohftnhs.uk/membership

Accessibility information

If you would like to have this information in another format or translated into a different language, please use the ReachDeck function built into this website.

Disclaimer: Automated translations are provided as a courtesy to website visitors, but we do not make any promises, assurances, or guarantees as to the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of the translations provided.

Page last reviewed: 7 December, 2023

Other formats

Print page

Download PDF version

Leaflet code: OH 027.23