Wholesale reorganisation of the child protection system will not
provide a solution to “child protection dilemmas”, child welfare
agencies and professional associations said, following the closing
of phase two of the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, writes
Lauren Revans and Janet Snell.
In a joint statement, the Association of Directors of Social
Services, the Local Government Association, the Metropolitan
Police, the NHS Confederation, and various children’s
charities, warned against “potentially destabilising large-scale
reorganisation of departments”.
Instead, they called for all agencies to give child welfare more
attention, for the role of area child protection committees to be
strengthened and placed on a statutory footing, and for a national
curriculum for the training of all professionals involved in child
protection and child welfare.
The group, which also includes the Society of Education Officers
and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, insisted
that listening to children must be “at the heart of any assessment
undertaken by those working with children and their families”.
Other recommendations included shared outcomes with linked
multi-agency performance indicators, joint inspections of
collaborative working arrangements, and shared work places –
or the creation of virtual teams – to enable different groups
of staff to work alongside each other where necessary.
Meanwhile, children’s charity Barnardo’s, which
signed up to the statement, stressed calls to support and resource
frontline staff in a separate letter this week to inquiry
chairperson Lord Laming.
The letter reminds Laming and his panel that it is skilled
frontline staff – whether police, social workers or health
professionals – who are at the heart of an effective child
Chief executive Roger Singleton said it was important that, when
the Laming report finally appeared this autumn, it did not amount
to “moving the furniture around”.
“It’s no use coming up with general exhortations to improve
training and supervision; we’ve heard that from child death
inquiries going back 30 years,” Singleton said. “Our view is that
it is the skilling, support and supervision of adequate members of
frontline staff and mangers which is most likely to improve child
protection in this country – not major structural change.”
The charity has proposed a kind of “MOT certificate” for
frontline workers and managers who can demonstrate their competence
and effectiveness of local collaborative arrangements, which could
eventually be developed into a qualification along the lines of
that obtained by approved social workers. Those who do not make the
grade could be offered short intensive training programmes
alongside local staff from other professions.