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Wed, 06 Jul 22 11:59

ADCS response: Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s...

Steve Crocker, ADCS President, said:

“It has been difficult to read the harrowing details of what Arthur and Star endured in their short lives. Child protection is complex and high risk; social workers, the police, GPs, schools and others, must work together in a multi-agency, multidisciplinary way to identify children at risk of harm and to get alongside and build trust with families who may not always be open to this. Sadly, all risk of harm to children cannot be eliminated, but we must continue to strive to do so.

“The report is clear that safeguarding is a multi-agency endeavour; while there are examples of ‘excellent multi-agency practice’, the report highlights that this is not always the case. There is learning and reflection to be drawn from this report for all local areas and for national government. For example, sharing and piecing together timely and relevant information about children and their circumstances is key to getting a full picture of a child, their needs and the risks posed to them, as is securing enough resources from all safeguarding partners for child protection work. Domestic abuse is the most common reason why children come to the attention of children’s social care, the learning that will come from the review on domestic abuse in the summer will be a helpful addition to our understanding of this complex issue. In addition, the Panel highlight some chronic challenges that create barriers to good child protection, such as problems recruiting and retaining enough experienced social workers resulting in an over reliance on agency social workers and the pressure health visitors are under. Our hope is that any learning identified through the report will improve safeguards and, crucially, outcomes for children in every area.

“The report makes a number of recommendations for change, including establishing Multi Agency Child Protection Units in every local area. We will need further details to understand how such units would work in practice and the relationship with the wider system of children’s social care, ensuring that lessons are learnt from previous attempts to implement similar models while identifying any potential unintended consequences for children, families and our staff. The recommendations here must be carefully considered alongside the proposals in the independent review of children’s social care’s final report and we are pleased the Panel recognises this. There are several reform programmes in relation to children taking place at the same time; children’s needs must be viewed in the round. ADCS has long called for a national plan for children, this is relevant now more than ever.

“Local authorities are committed to working with our partners to keep children safe from harm against a backdrop of greater and evermore complex need in our communities and more than a decade of local authority budget cuts. Recent investment in Family Hubs and Supporting Families programme shows that the government understands the value of supporting children and families at the earliest opportunity to avoid escalation of need. However, investment in both early help and child protection work is needed to shift the dial towards supporting more children and families earlier on, before they reach crisis point and we hope that the government recognises the call from the independent review of children’s social care that investment of £2.6bn is urgently needed to re-set the system.”


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