The government must take action to address the “variable” qualify of local safeguarding children board (LSCB) chairs, according to directors of children’s services.
In a position paper published today, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) also warned of a “mission creep” on the role of safeguarding boards.
“ADCS members are concerned that independent chairing has become an orthodoxy. The effectiveness of the chair comes down to the quality of the individual and not their independence per se. Currently there is great variation in standards amongst LSCB chairs. This must be addressed,” the paper said.
Training, a formally constituted professional development programme or a national process to validate or licence chairs are potential ways the issue could be addressed, the paper said.
It added that LSCBs are now asked to lead on all sorts of emerging concerns, with suggested delivery roles in the areas of child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and the radicalisation of young people and whole families.
“This mission creep – from coordinating and overseeing the effectiveness of the activity of constituent partners, to a sense of responsibility to commission or deliver services and solutions – has led to inappropriate expectations being placed upon LSCBs, expectations which they are not established, equipped, nor funded to fulfil,” the policy added.
It said the lack of clarity could be a result of a lack of understanding within some central government departments and by some statutory partners.
No radical alternative
The ADCS recommended a re-statement of the principal statutory objective of the LSCB is required, and that the core role needs to be tightly prescribed.
Alison O’Sullivan, president of the ADCS, told the delegation at the National Children and Adult Services Conference that there was no “radical alternative” to the LSCB. “If we didn’t have them, we’d end up inventing something similar. But their role needs to be clearly focussed and implemented with confidence in order to fulfil the principal statutory objective of LSCBs.
“Widening the preventative remit of LSCBs detracts from the core function,” she said.
The ADCS also supported the idea of guidance that sets out an expected formula for contribution for local agencies so LSCBs can be adequately funded.