Children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson has volunteered to lead a national debate on how agencies assess risk when it comes to children’s safeguarding.
Responding to a question after her keynote speech at Community Care LIVE, Atkinson said she agreed with the questioner that risk of emotional harm and risk to the spiritual well-being of children was currently ignored “at our peril”.
“With Tim Loughton, who has such long experience in this role, there is hope in this new ministerial team and I wouldn’t be surprised if he wanted to have that national debate and I would want to be involved in that debate.
“If a body is needed to spearhead and facilitate that debate then I happily put my office forward to do that.”
Atkinson said she had had a brief conversation with the new secretary of state, Michael Gove, and although his personal passion was education, which would be where the government will legislate first, “he did say in a letter to his staff that he wanted to strengthen children’s services.
“Tim Loughton is a passionate campaigner on vulnerable children and in Sarah Teather we have someone with a strong background in housing which is often a key problem area for these families.
“They may have changed the name of the department but they haven’t come in and busted it apart as they could have done, they’re not going to rescind Every Child Matters.”
Atkinson also said she did not feel professionals should be too concerned over whether structures such as children’s trusts exist.
“If we get hung up on structures will will run ourselves into the sand. I think like Macbeth in most localities there is blood stepped so far it would be as bloody to go back as to go on. The benefits of partnership working and holding to account will not go away.”
She said her policy priorities over the next six months will be working out how to ensure the opening up of the family courts was implemented to ensure children did not feel they could not tell their stories and she was also going to focus heavily on safeguaarding for children in young offender institutions, alternative detention options for asylum seeking children and the future shape of serious case reviews.