Radical overhaul of child protection will not work, agencies tell Laming

Wholesale reorganisation of the child
protection system will not provide a solution to “child protection
dilemmas”, child welfare agencies and professional associations
said this week.

In a
joint statement following the closing of phase two of the Victoria
Climbie Inquiry, the Association of Directors of Social Services,
the Local Government Association, the Metropolitan Police, the NHS
Confederation, and several children’s charities including
Barnardo’s, warned against “potentially destabilising large-scale
reorganisation of departments”.

Instead, they called for all
agencies to give child welfare more attention, for the role of area
child protection committees to be strengthened and placed on a
statutory footing, and for a national curriculum for the training
of all professionals involved in child protection and child

group, which also includes the Society of Education Officers and
the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, insisted that
listening to children must be “at the heart of any assessment
undertaken by those working with children and their

recommendations included shared outcomes with linked multi-agency
performance indicators, joint inspections of collaborative working
arrangements, and shared work places, or the creation of virtual
teams, to enable different groups of staff to work alongside each
other where necessary.

In a
separate letter this week to inquiry chairperson Lord Laming,
children’s charity Barnardo’s emphasised the need to support and
resource front-line staff.

organisation reminded Laming and his panel that it is skilled
front-line staff, whether police, social workers or health
professionals, who are at the heart of an effective child
protection system.

executive of Barnardo’s Roger Singleton said it was important that,
when the Laming report finally appeared, it did not amount to
“moving the furniture around”.

no use coming up with general exhortations to improve training and
supervision; we’ve heard that from child death inquiries going back
30 years,” Singleton said. “Our view is that it is the skills,
support and supervision of adequate numbers of front-line staff and
managers that is most likely to improve child protection in this
country not major structural change.”

charity has proposed a kind of “MOT certificate” for front-line
staff who can demonstrate their competence and the effectiveness of
local collaborative arrangements, which could eventually be
developed into a qualification along the lines of that obtained by
approved social workers. Those who do not make the grade could be
offered short intensive training programmes alongside local staff
from other professions.

– See


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