Local authorities concentrating on achieving a balance between
universal and preventive services could end up overlooking
children’s welfare, chief inspectors warned today in their
second report on safeguarding children.
The chief inspectors of the eight inspectorates covering schools,
social care, health and the justice system said some cash-strapped
and under-staffed social services departments were still applying
“inappropriately high thresholds” in their child
protection and family support work. This was leading to other
agencies not referring children when concerns about their welfare
The chief inspectors said this raised questions about the capacity
in some council areas “to protect and promote the welfare of
children effectively as well as achieving an appropriate balance
between universal and preventive services within the new Every
Child Matters arrangements”.
Although the chief inspectors’ report acknowledges the
increased priority given to safeguarding children across local
government, health services and the justice system since their
first report in 2002, they warn that some children in need could
still be “falling through the safeguarding net”.
In particular, they highlight the “insufficient
priority” given to safeguarding children with disabilities,
those placed for adoption, those placed in care outside their home
area, and young people aged between 16 and 18 with a mental
health condition or chronic illness.
There are also on-going concerns about vulnerable children held in
young offender institutions and those living in unregulated
settings such as detention centres and private fostering
“There are some areas of policy and practice in relation to
children who live away from home that are in need of significant
improvement,” the report states.
“There is still an assumption that because these children are
already in care or under supervision they must be safe, despite the
fact that the extent to which children themselves feel safe varies
considerably. This level of complacency mitigates against
Safeguarding Children from www.safeguardingchildren.org.uk