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New expert child protection units across the country

Source: Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel published on this site Friday 27 May 2022

The national child safeguarding practice review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, 6, and Star Hobson, 16-months, has recommended that experts in police, health and social work should form dedicated multi-agency teams to investigate allegations of serious harm to children.

The independent review, carried out by the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, looked at the lives of the two children who were murdered by their parents’ partners. It identified that failings in how agencies worked together meant concerns raised by wider family members about physical abuse were not properly investigated by police and social workers.

The report reveals that what happened to Arthur and Star are not isolated incidents and their deaths reflect wider problems in child safeguarding practice, including poor information sharing between professionals and weak decision-making. Therefore, the panel is calling for government to strengthen the child protection system at a national and local level so there is a more effective joined-up response.

Panel Chair, Annie Hudson said:

“Arthur and Star suffered horrific and ultimately fatal abuse. But sadly, whilst their individual stories are unique, many hundreds of children are seriously harmed each year.

“At the moment, each professional who comes into contact with a child holds one piece of the jigsaw of what is happening in a child’s life. Our proposed reforms would bring together experts from social work, police and health into one team so that they can have a better picture of what is happening to a child, listening carefully to relatives’ concerns and taking necessary actions to protect children.

“Professionals working to protect children have to deal with the most complex challenges and some perpetrators of abuse will evade even the most robust safeguards. However, in too many instances, there is inadequate join-up in how agencies respond to high-risk situations where children are being abused.”

The panel is making eight national recommendations and a number of local recommendations for safeguarding partners in Solihull and Bradford.

The national recommendations include:

  • implementing new expert-led, multi-agency child protection units to undertake investigation, planning and oversight of children at risk
  • establishing national multi-agency practice standards for child protection - this would provide a standard of quality and consistency in practice for working with children at risk and their families across the country
  • a sharper performance focus and better co-ordination of child protection policy in central government - this involves the establishment of a national Child Protection Board, bringing together all relevant central government departments, local government, the police, education and health representatives

The local recommendations for Safeguarding Partners in Solihull, where Arthur lived, include:

ensuring that all assessments undertaken by agencies draw on information and analysis from all relevant professionals, wider family members or other significant adults who try and speak on behalf of the child

reviewing the partnership Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub arrangements to ensure a more “Think Family” approach

reviewing and commissioning strategies to ensure practitioners know how to respond to incidents of domestic abuse and understand the risks to children of prisoners

The local recommendations for Safeguarding Partners in Bradford, where Star lived, include:

agreeing clear expectations regarding risk assessment and decision making and ensuring these are understood by all agencies

reviewing, developing and commissioning a comprehensive early help offer which can be accessed before, during and after the completion of any child and family assessment by children’s social care

reviewing and commissioning domestic abuse services to guide the response of practitioners and ensure there is a robust understanding of what the domestic abuse support offer is in Bradford

Jersey publish new Children and Young People (Jersey) Law 2022

Source: Jersey Legal Information Board published on this site Thursday 26 May 2022 by Jill Powell

This Law is to make provision to promote and support the wellbeing, and safeguard the welfare, of children and young people, and for connected purposes.

The Law may be cited as the  Children and Young People (Jersey) Law 2022 and comes into force on a day to be specified by the States by Act.

Fundamental shift in children’s social care set out

Source: Department for Education published on this site Tuesday 24 May 2022 by Jill Powell

Vulnerable children and families in England will be better supported by a fundamental shift in how children’s social care services are delivered, guided by the findings of an independent review of children’s social care published today.

The government is setting out initial new measures in response to recommendations set out in Josh MacAlister’s independent review of children’s social care, which looked at how children and their families interact with the care system and how it can be improved.

Families most at risk will be supported to stay safely together, with a focus on early help, preventing them from reaching crisis point.

As part of this, the government has revealed plans to set up a new National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change and the care system. It will also boost efforts to recruit more foster carers, increase support for social workers including on leadership, recruitment and retention, improve data sharing, and implement a new evidence-based framework for all the professionals working in children’s social care.

Seven areas of England will also receive funding to set up family hubs which offer early help and intervention, in recognition of the importance of strong, joined up local services as a foundation for an improved social care system.

Local authorities will also receive funding for schemes that support vulnerable children to remain engaged in their education and strengthen links between social care and education.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, said:

“This is the start of a journey to change the culture and dramatically reform the children’s social care system.  Everything we do to raise the outcomes for children and families must be backed by evidence. This report will be central in taking forward our ambition to ensure every child has a loving and stable home and we will continue working with experts and people who have experienced care to deliver change on the ground.

“I am grateful to Josh MacAlister for his work, as well as to the families, young people, and professionals who shared their experiences.  We are ready to meet the challenge set by this review and I will set out my plans for bold and ambitious change in the coming months.”

The 7 new areas receiving funding for family hubs will build on a successful network of centres that are already up and running and are making a transformative difference in the lives of parents who may not have an immediate support network. A further 5 areas will also receive part of a £12 million investment, in addition to the 75 areas that will receive part of a £302 million pot of funding, delivering on the manifesto commitment to a network of family hubs around the country.

Funding will also be provided to LAs for continued delivery of the Social workers in schools and Designated safeguarding lead supervision programmes, building on successful pilots which have supported young people in hundreds of schools since launching in September 2020. Through strengthened working between social care and schools, they have helped improve early identification of need, provided better support for families from social care, and kept vulnerable young people engaged with their education, helping to boost attendance, behaviour and attainment.

To support vulnerable children to remain engaged in their education and strengthen links between social care and education, local authorities will also receive funding in 2022 to 2023 to continue schemes that put social workers onsite in schools and provide designated safeguarding leads with supervision from senior social workers.

These measures respond to findings in today’s report which call for more help for families in crisis, decisive action in response to abuse, and a commitment for those in care to benefit from lifelong loving relationships. Plans to reform the system include:

  • setting up a National Implementation Board of sector experts and people with experience of leading transformational change, and with experience of the care system
  • working with local authorities to boost efforts to recruit more foster carers, ensuring children have access to the right placements at the right time
  • reframing and refocusing the support social workers receive in the early part of their careers, particularly to enhance their skills and knowledge in child protection
  • joining up data from across the public sector to increase transparency – both between safeguarding partners and to the wider public, setting out more detail later this year
  • developing a national children’s social care framework, which will set direction for the system and point everyone to the best available evidence to support families and protect children.

Schools Bill progressing through Parliament

Source: UK Parliament published on Wednesday 25 May 2022 by Jill Powell

The Bill is to make provision for the regulation of Academies; about school and local education funding; about the attendance of children at school; about the regulation of independent educational institutions; about teacher misconduct; and for connected purposes

On the 23 May 2022 the Bill had it’s second reading where the following aspects of the new draft law was discussed:

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and drew attention to specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during

second reading. Topics covered during the debate included: 

  1. improving the standard of reading, writing and maths in primary schools
  2. supporting schools to join multi-academy trusts
  3. reforming the school funding system to give all children the same opportunities
  4. developing an attendance policy for schools, trusts, governing bodies and local authorities
  5. introducing a register for children not in schools
  6. broadening the scope of the current teacher misconduct regime 
  7. careers advice and development for teachers and students
  8. funding areas of educational underperformance
  9. keeping schools well maintained, safe and operational
  10. doing more for children with special education needs and disabilities
  11. children's mental health
  12. powers for government in the bill and capacity of the Department for Education to deliver regulation.

This new draft law will be influential in safeguarding children who attend school and those who do not

For more information download the House of Lords Library Briefing

Committee stage, the first chance for line by line examination of the bill, is scheduled to begin on Wednesday 8 June.

Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) updated for September 2022

Source: Department for Education  published on this site Monday 23 May 2022 by Jill Powell

 

Keeping children safe in education Government response to consultation May 2022 has been published in draft it Introduction states:

"On 11 January 2022, the Department for Education published a consultation on proposed changes to the statutory guidance for schools and colleges in England – Keeping children safe in education (“KCSIE”). The consultation provided respondents with an opportunity to comment on proposed revisions made across all parts of the guidance as well as the proposed incorporation of the Department’s stand-alone Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges advice, which we proposed to withdraw. The consultation also sought to extend our evidence base by asking a number of questions (26 to 29) to help gather information about how schools and colleges respond to reports of sharing nudes and semi-nudes and about the filtering and monitoring systems they have in place. The consultation closed on 11 March 2022. 

" We have published alongside this response, a draft of the revised KCSIE guidance (KCSIE September 2022 - FOR INFORMATION). This is for information so that schools and colleges can plan for the commencement of the guidance on 1 September 2022. 

Until the new revised guidance commences on 1 September 2022, the existing statutory guidance - Keeping children safe in education 2021 is still in force and is what schools and colleges must continue to have regard to. 

Until the updated version of KCSIE commences on 1 September 2022, the existing advice Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges, is still in force."