By Caroline Roaf.
Open University Press
We are at a crucial stage in the history of children’s services.
Social services’ responsibility at central governmental level has
been passed to the Department for Education and Skills, the first
minister for children has been appointed and structural and
organisational reforms in the shape of children’s trusts are about
to be introduced. This thoughtful book by the respected Caroline
Roaf comes, therefore, at a key moment.
The characteristics of successful inter-agency work are identified
as strong commitment, especially from the top; regular inter-agency
meetings; common work practices; common agreement and collective
ownership of the problems; exchange of confidential information; a
framework for collecting data; monitoring and evaluation; and joint
training. Inter-agency work is defined as a new professionalism and
the development of interpersonal skills becomes essential.
The most important conclusion is that creating “inter-agency
agencies” is not needed. Instead, the evidence suggests that
smaller inter-agency teams are likely to be more effective. Primary
care agencies have massed a wealth of professional expertise and
“an advantage of firm boundaries is that equally firm bridges can
be built joining them”.
David Berridge is professor of child and family welfare,
University of Luton Understanding Social Security.