Full publication of serious case reviews will help and support social workers more than anybody, children’s minister Tim Loughton said at today’s launch of the government’s review of child protection.
“At the moment, social workers can’t win,” said Loughton. “Either you’re a child-snatcher or you didn’t intervene before a tragedy.”
Loughton said publication of SCRs would reveal the extent of other agencies’ involvement with child protection cases, taking some of the spotlight and blame off social services.
Shireen Ritchie, chair of the Local Government Association children and young people board, agreed.
Responding to today’s announcement, she said: “It is time for professionals like the police and health service workers to step up to the mark and show they understand the part they have to play in helping social workers reach the most vulnerable children first.”
Eileen Munro, the London School of Economics professor of social work who has been asked to lead the review, added: “If you look at full SCRs, there’s actually a lot of good practice there too. What gets the headlines is a rather biased sample and we need more transparency to avoid that.”
Loughton emphasised her review was not “another system overhaul”. He said the previous government’s attempts to improve the sector had led to an over-kill of guidance and legislation, something he wished to avoid.
“The child protection world has become a big enterprise, but many would say it’s become too much about protecting the system than about protecting children and families,” he said.
Shaun Kelly, head of safeguarding at Action for Children, welcomed this approach, saying the aim to decrease bureaucracy was key to the success of the review.
“It is the people, not the system who play the most important role in protecting our children, which is why this review’s commitment to look at ways of supporting frontline professionals is so welcome,” he said.
Other organisations also welcomed the review.
Sir Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said the sector was in “desperate need for some policy stability” and applauded Munro’s stated focus on early intervention services.
He said: “We know from years of research and experience that it is early intervention which proves to be the cheapest and most effective way of protecting children and reducing inequalities, but despite this evidence, early intervention services are most at greatest risk in the current recession.”
Munro is set to publish an evidence report in September, an interim report in January 2011 and a final report September 2011.
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