Charity wants unqualified assistants to relieve burden in child protection

As the social care sector prepares for publication of the Victoria
Climbie Report expected next week, a leading children’s charity has
called for unqualified people to be recruited from local
communities to work with child protection professionals.

The idea, included in NCH’s 10-point plan for reform of the child
protection system published this week, is intended to free up
skilled child professionals, empower local communities and “open
up” child protection so that it becomes everyone’s business and

Comparing the unqualified helpers to classroom assistants in
schools, the report says they would help to provide practical
support to families under pressure where children are at risk and
would raise public awareness and understanding of child protection

Jane Held, co-chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social
Services’ children and families committee, said the proposed roles
were similar to those carried out by family support workers and
welcomed them as long as the correct systems were in place.

“It’s about ensuring the support workers have the right
information, knowledge and support themselves to ensure they can
pass on knowledge to the professionals,” she said. She denied
social workers would feel undermined so long as there was a clear
line of responsibility, accountability and task.

The NCH report criticises the continued focus within mainstream
children’s services on crisis intervention despite government
ambitions for more preventive services.

The charity says it knows of several preventive services that are
likely to “close or shift direction because the children’s services
departments running or funding them feel they need to do more in
terms of crisis intervention”.

The report adds that, although Sure Start and the Children’s Fund
are funding preventive services, some statutory agencies are using
these to replace existing services, diverting their resources from
prevention towards crisis intervention when a Sure Start or
Children’s Fund scheme is set up.

Other ideas for improving child protection services in the
charity’s plan include a recruitment campaign for children’s social
care and use of the identification, referral and tracking
initiative to improve sharing information between agencies.

There are also calls for continuing child protection training for
GPs and teachers, improved relations with churches and faith
communities, a statutory footing for area child protection
committees, a children’s rights commissioner and equal rights for
children from abroad. 

Protecting Children from Risk: NCH’s View from

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