National child protection agency ‘would quell fears’

A national child protection agency would help remove families’
uncertainties about whether staff were investigating or supporting
them, the conference was told.

Lisa Harker, deputy director of the left-of-centre think-tank the
Institute for Public Policy Research, said she was aware many
social workers opposed the idea, but the status quo was not an

She said: “A dedicated service could emphasise the specialist
skills and expertise that are required to safeguard children. It
could help remove families’ uncertainties about whether staff are
investigating or supporting them, which is often a major barrier to
effective working.”

Launching the IPPR’s document on the future of social care in 2020,
Harker said researchers had heard many views on what should happen
with children’s services.

The report, From Welfare to Wellbeing: The Future of Social
, reflects this divergence. Policy analyst Anne Davies
argues that child protection needs a higher priority rather than a
separate agency.

But Harker was persuaded by the single agency argument. “Far from
ghettoising child protection, if this service had the right
resources, training and incentives it could help emphasise the
importance of child protection skills,” she said.

Harker said it was also important to focus on prevention, but that
child protection crisis work often “captures attention and
resources away from preventive care”.

On the wider picture for social care, the IPPR report says social
care must explode the myth that it is only for people on the
margins of society.

“Social careÉmust change from being a poor service for poor
people to being a service that meets universal needs,” the report

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