The government has refused to implement a key recommendation in the Munro Review of child protection to create an early intervention duty on councils.
Children’s minister Tim Loughton told parliament this week that after consulting with directors of children’s services, police, health and education “we have concluded we do not need a new statutory duty to deliver early help and that there is sufficient existing legislation to realise Professor Munro’s recommendation”.
The move was expected given the government’s current move to reduce the number of statutory duties on councils.
However, many in the sector have argued that unless there are statutory obligations on councils to provide help earlier, current budget cuts will inevitably mean that families will only be given support when their children are at risk of being taken into care.
In her review Professor Eileen Munro commented on the “concerning evidence that early support and preventative services are the target for cuts and efficiencies”.
She went on to point out that “since preventative services do more to reduce abuse and neglect than reactive services, this review considers attention to co-ordinating services, such as being attempted through community budgets, as essential. The state’s responsibility to protect children and young people means government must provide a clear legal framework to set out what vulnerable children and young people and their families should expect from the collective efforts of local agencies”.
Loughton also told parliament that revisions to Working Together to Safeguard Children and the Framework of Assessment for Children in Need and their Families would not be out for consultation until early 2012 with revised statutory guidance published in July 2012.
Statutory deadlines on assessments were expected to be scrapped nationally by the end of this year. The current pilots that are testing this will now run until the end of March next year.
The government has also decided to scrap the national electronic common assessment framework (eCAF). Loughton told MPs they would work on a transition plan over the coming months and if they were able to sell the system.
Loughton also announced that Lancashire as well as Coventry would now pilot the SCIE model of serious case reviews on cases that meet the current threshold.