Government accepts most of Laming’s recommendations

More than 80 of the 108 recommendations in Lord Laming’s
report will be implemented within six months, prime minister Tony
Blair has confirmed in the House of Commons, writes
Sally Gillen.

All bar one of the 42 recommendations with a three to six month
deadline are included in a self-audit toolkit already sent by the
Social Services Inspectorate to all councils with social services

It leaves out recommendation 62, which says that directors of
social services must ensure that hospital-based social workers who
come into contact with children from other local authority areas
must work to a single set of guidance. However, this will be
included in new national guidance for all professional staff
dealing with children due to be published within the next three

None of the recommendations, which have a proposed two-year
timescale for implementation, are included in the toolkit and it is
not yet known whether the government will accept those which would
result in major reform.

But the toolkit does cover many of the recommendations of the
inquiry report on good professional practice and management and
governance issues.

Thirty of these are already subject to statutory guidance and
reiterate basic good practice. They include recommendations that
all frontline staff should be trained to pass all calls about the
safety of children through to the appropriate duty team without
delay, and that directors of social services must ensure that every
child’s case file includes a properly maintained

Among the 12 on which there is currently no statutory guidance
is the recommendation that an assessment be carried out and
recorded on a child’s case file whenever a child is placed by
social services in temporary accommodation.

Councils must submit their audit information by the end of
April. This will be used to assess whether councils need additional
help to improve their services. A sample of councils will be
subject to extra inspection visits.

Meanwhile, Haringey council was under fire again last week after
a high court judge said she was “concerned and disappointed” about
its failure to put in place procedures to ensure efficient
management of child protection cases.

Mrs Justice Bracewell attacked the council for its handling of a
case involving children aged two and three said to have suffered
non-accidental injuries while in the care of their parents.

Sitting in the court’s family division, she accused the
council of a “singular lack of progress” in the case, adding that
she had ordered the assistant director of social services David
Derbyshire to court to explain.

“He gave evidence and it was plain that not only had he no
knowledge of the case, but

had singularly failed to make any detailed inquiries, and had
relied on the social worker to give any explanation he could,” she

Cases in the family division are normally heard in private, but
Bracewell decided to make her comments public because of her
concerns about Haringey.

In a statement, the council said: “We regret the procedural
delays which meant that some hearings could not take place as
planned. However, this has not affected the date of the final
hearing, which is still due to take place in June. The
children’s safety has been maintained throughout with a
package of support being provided for the family.”

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