The effectiveness of the government’s child protection agenda has been called into question after a survey revealed 20% of those working with children are unaware of the proposals set out in Every Child Matters.
A similar proportion of workers have not even seen the guidelines for safeguarding children, which were first published in 2003 and formed the basis of the 2004 Children Act.
Over 4,000 people took part in independent research examining the impact of the green paper on workers in local government, health services, schools, the youth justice system, early years services and the voluntary sector. The research was carried out by BMRB Social Research on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills.
Of those who said they were aware of the policy, well over half said they did not know enough about how it impacted on their current job. A quarter said that the guidelines would make little or no difference to their job.
Awareness of guidelines on safeguarding children varied between different professions: 5% of children’s social workers were unaware, compared with 28% of youth workers.
But Paul Ennals, chief executive of Children’s Charity NCB, insisted that awareness of Every Child Matters compared favourably with other government initiatives.
“It’s always disappointing to hear when someone has not heard of such an important initiative, but I find these figures encouraging,” he said. “The figures are a little more worrying for the awareness of guidelines for safeguarding children, and there needs to be more done to effectively role out the strategy. But the implications of Every Child Matters for children’s services are universal and profound, and at this stage it is doing considerably better than just about any other government initiative.”
A DfES spokesperson added: “This study provides a valuable insight into the diversity of the children’s workforce and their views on the Every Child Matters agenda. It is important to gauge perception of those practitioners on the ground.
“The study reveals a high level of job satisfaction among the children’s workforce as well as a good awareness of the Every Child Matters agenda. We are working with local authorities, schools, unions and others to look at how we can raise awareness levels amongst the wider children’s workforce.”
Children’s Workforce Reasearch from http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR716.pdf