By Judy Cooper
The government is set to review child protection thresholds and whether there should be nationally set “triggers” for taking a child into care.
The move is part of its response to the Carlile Report on the Edlington torture case. The Carlile Report recommended in cases where there had been three police reports of criminal behaviour (or a comparable trigger) parents should prove why the child should not be taken into care.
“The government agrees there is variability in the application of thresholds at all levels. We will be undertaking a review into the application of thresholds so we are clear on what action must be taken when children’s circumstances warrant statutory intervention, including taking them into care,” the response stated.
Such a move would contradict the Munro Review of child protection, which urged the government to free up social workers to make the right decisions for vulnerable children.
The government said it was “important there are clear criteria for when and how professionals should take action which is applied consistently so that services are commissioned effectively”.
It also pointed out that, in addition to the Carlile Report, the education select committee had highlighted the need for further research into the way in which thresholds operate, in a report last November.
In its response to other Carlile recommendations the government said it:
- would consider having a designated family judge advising every serious case review as part of its talks with the judiciary on implementing the Family Justice Review;
- had already awarded a contract to a consortium including the NSPCC and Action for Children to deliver a support programme for SCR authors;
- had tendered for a two stage study to look at the barriers for organisations learning from SCRs and how to break down those barriers;
- was discussing with the Association of Independent Local Safeguarding Children Board Chairs the idea of creating a central repository of SCR reports which would be available online;
- would commission an external evaluation of the Troubled Families programme and consider if further action were needed to monitor local authorities’ compliance with the programme and the scope to consider this within the existing inspection frameworks;
- would undertake a review of the relationship between schools and local mental health services and consult on statutory guidance on keeping children safe in education;
- would tender for a new service to help support the development of the “parenting classes” market.
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