Working Together changes: what social workers need to know

The government is consulting on changes to the Working Together guidance - here are the key points for social workers

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The government is consulting on changes to the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance. The wide-ranging guidance sets out the requirements individual services have to promote the welfare of children, and how different agencies should work together to achieve that.

The consultation ends on 31 December and a new draft of the guidance will be finalised next year, replacing the current edition published in 2015.

Most of the updates in the guidance relate to changes around local safeguarding children’s boards (LSCBs) and serious case reviews brought in by the Children and Social Work Act 2017, but there also others of relevance to social workers.

Here are some of the most important changes:

Principal social worker role to be recognised in guidance

One major change proposed is the inclusion of the principal social worker role in statutory guidance. Until this point, the role in children’s social work had not been included in legislation or guidance while it had been for adults’ principal social workers.

Subject to the consultation, the description of the role in guidance is:

“Designated Principal Social Workers have a key role in developing the practice and the practice methodology that underpins direct work with children and families.”

“Principal Social Workers should support social workers, the local authority and partners to develop their assessment practice and decision making skills, and the practice methodology that underpins this.”

Accreditation’s importance outlined

The updated guidance will also recognise the importance of the National Accreditation and Assessment Scheme, the controversial scheme which will involve social workers taking knowledge and practice skills tests to gain accreditation for different practice roles.

While the guidance outlines its overall purpose as emphasising what effective safeguarding looks like, it proposes to say of accreditation:

“Child and family social workers have the right knowledge and skills as set out in the post-qualification standards under the National Assessment and Accreditation System (NAAS) to do their jobs well.”

In referencing supervision, the proposed guidance says: “It is crucial that social workers are supported through effective supervision arrangements by practice leaders and practice supervisors as defined under the NAAS who have the lead role in overseeing the quality of social work practice.”

LSCB changes

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 replaces LSCBs with new arrangements, led by three safeguarding partners from local authorities, the chief officer of police and clinical commissioning groups.

The new guidance will outline who the relevant senior officers should be, what their roles will be and where they should be from. It says local arrangements can cover two or more local authorities and it will be incumbent on the safeguarding partners to agree how multi-agency safeguarding arrangements work in their area.

Learning from failure

The proposed guidance outlines how local child safeguarding practice reviews should work, as well as the functions of the new national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. Furthermore it outlines the function of child death reviews, which will assume responsibility for reviewing and analysing the death of any child normally in their area.

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