Children’s social workers will no longer be held to prescribed timescales for assessments and the distinction between initial and core assessments will be removed by the end of this year, the government has said in its official response to Eileen Munro’s review of child protection.
But the government has pledged no new money to implement Munro’s reforms, despite many in the sector calling for this.
Local authorities will be expected to appoint a practising senior social worker as the principal child and family social worker in their department, as recommended by Munro.
By the end of 2012, the government will implement a chief social worker who will provide a permanent professional presence for social work in government, covering children and adults.
Local authorities will also be expected to “assess and redesign child and family social services, based on feedback from children and families”.
The ministerial statement in response to Munro makes no mention of additonal funding for any of this.
The DfE has promised to establish a joint programme of work with the Department of Health by September 2011 to ensure children’s safeguarding is a central consideration of the health reforms.
It has also said it will undertake further work with the sector to consider the evidence and opportunities for using systems review methodology for serious case reviews (SCRs) to help local service providers learn lessons effectively.
The government says it plans to reform child protection inspection as well, saying that all services – health, education, police, probation and the justice system – will be officially assessed in this area.
Children’s minister Tim Loughton said: “Today’s response is the first stage of a journey which will fundamentally change the child protection system – we’re not just tinkering at the edges and fixing short-term problems. We are freeing hardworking social workers and other professionals from structures, procedures and rulebooks so they can do their best for vulnerable children and their families.”
Special report: what the Munro reforms mean for social work