The Munro review has called on the government to protect the role of the director of children’s services and criticised moves by some councils to either split children’s services from education or to combine children and adult’s services.
“The review questions whether such structures would allow sufficient focus and attention to be paid to the most vulnerable children,” it stated.
“The importance, as envisaged in the Children Act 2004, of appointing individuals to positions where they have specific responsibilities for children’s services should not be undermined. The Government should amend the statutory guidance issued in relation to such roles and establish the principle that, given the importance of individuals in senior positions being responsible for children’s services, it should not be considered appropriate to give additional functions (that do not relate to children’s services) to Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members for Children’s Services unless exceptional circumstances arise.”
Professor Eileen Munro, in her third and final report on England’s child protection system, also warned there was evidence that health and children’s services “are growing further apart in their strategic priorities for children and young people”. She recommended the government work closely with medical colleges to research the impact of the proposed health reforms on child protection arrangements.
In regard to serious case reviews Munro has recommended local safeguarding children boards be forced to use a “systems approach” similar to approaches taken in the health sector and by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). Lessons from local reviews should then be organised, published and linked to the national analysis of child death overview panels.
This could then be distributed to social work teams around the country via the chief social worker.
“The move to a systems approach to learning will require a radical reconceptualisation of the task and readjustment of the required skills. The extent of the change should not be underestimated. It will need to include the provision of national training and accreditation programmes for lead reviewers of SCRs and other case reviews. Unlike courses provided nationally to date, this will need to focus specifically on investigation theory and practice methods,” Munro added.
In the meantime, Ofsted’s evaluation of serious case reviews should end, the report stated.
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