All allegations against professionals who work with children would be referred to children’s social care under new proposals from the Department for Education (DfE).
The DfE is consulting on proposed revisions to the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance. This would see allegations against people who work with children referred through children’s social care, as “concerns about a child’s welfare”.
The DfE said the current systems of referring to a local authority designated officer (LADO) have caused confusion amongst some professionals about what to refer and to whom.
Rather than scrap the role, the DfE said it wanted the designated officer to link more closely with children’s social care.
The changes would require children’s social care to designate an officer or team to manage such allegations. Qualified social workers should carry out this role, the proposal says.
Allegations against professionals who work with children would include anyone who has harmed a child, someone who has committed a potential criminal offence against or related to a child, or behaved in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm.
Clarifying ‘serious harm’
Clarifying the definition of serious harm for the purpose of serious case reviews is also proposed.
The new guidance would classify serious harm as being cases where a child has sustained “a potentially life threatening injury” or “serious impairment at the time of the incident, and or long-term impairment of physical or mental health or physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.”
The definition would also state that serious harm can occur even if the child has recovered.
The process for how Ofsted is notified of serious incidents would also be streamlined. Part of this change would include giving the guidance statutory status.
The consultation closes on 3 February.