The time and resources required to undertake serious case reviews (SCRs) means local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) have struggled to fulfil other responsibilities, such as those around training and early intervention, according to a government evaluation.
The report, commissioned from Loughborough University by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, found the Baby P case had “served to influence the focus and balance of activity, with renewed emphasis being placed upon LSCB’s child protection functions”.
“Serious case reviews can disrupt strategic planning as they are demanding in terms of time and resources,” the report concluded.
The report also found substantial variations in terms of the resources LSCBs received and, in the absence of a funding formula, “boards spent considerable time negotiating and securing contributions towards the operation of LSCBs”.
The researchers found this lack of resources was restricting the staff availability for meetings and to take forward work.
LSCBs had also struggled to disseminate learning and information to frontline workers.
“Frontline workers had a tendency to see the board as ‘up in the ether’ and detached from practice largely because the strategies developed at board level in response to government legislation were considered to be beyond the realm of their practical engagement.”
The demarcation with children’s trusts was also not always clear and “governance arrangements in general remain weak”. Some did not have enough seniority among members to drive through changes.
The most effective size of an LSCB was between 20 and 25 board members and most needed to do more to engage with children and young people.