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Don't forget our partners

Like many of us I have been thinking over the last few weeks about our collective and individual responses to the Department for Education consultation on its implementation strategy for children’s social care, Stable Homes: Built on Love. Whilst there are things I think we all agree with and support, I also think we all recognise there are some gaps in both the thinking and the possible consequences of the proposals too. I have been thinking particularly about the future role of children’s social care and its function as part of the wider system within which we all operate.

This really came to the fore recently when, last week, I met with colleagues from our Safeguarding Partnership, Health and Wellbeing Board, Community Safety Partnership and Youth Justice Board to talk about serious youth violence and developing our joined-up assurance processes. One thing that struck me immediately was the need for us to ensure that colleagues and all of our partners also understand the proposals within the consultation so that they too are considering their potential impact on the way we all work in the future.

Part of our focus in the meeting was the research published in Scotland in 2021, What works to Prevent Youth Violence: A summary of the evidence, by Dr Kirsten Russell. The review suggests there is evidence that school and education-based approaches are effective in reducing youth violence. These include both bullying prevention programmes and social and emotional learning programmes. Our discussion focussed on the need to break away from traditional approaches with a social work focus to thinking about how young people today might experience the world around them. Plus, thinking about how other partners in our various collaborations have an equal role in making this work.

This brings me back to my earlier reflection of how important it is, at a local level, that we all ensure a system response to the consultation is made. Otherwise, we really are at risk of focussing on one aspect of the way we support young people and their families and ignoring the vital role of all of our partner agencies in that very same system. So, whilst we are all very busy, finding time to attend presentations about the consultation; no doubt chairing meetings about how we might respond and reading endless reams of paperwork on the subject, my plea is that we do not forget our partners. For if the future is to work, and indeed, if children’s social care is to maintain its discrete and significant identity, our multi-agency colleagues’ views, and opinions, are perhaps more important than ever.

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