Working Together to Safeguard Children under fire

Working Together to Safeguard Children is too long, cumbersome and unwieldy, say professional bodies and social workers.

The criticism came in response to the consultation on a revised version of the government’s key guidance on safeguarding which has now closed.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) has suggested the guidance be divided into two documents, one a practitioner guide to safeguarding, the other regarding arrangements made by local safeguarding children boards and agencies to safeguard children.

The size of the guidance – 300 pages – has alarmed other organisations, including the Local Government Association (LGA).

“One of our strongest concerns relates to the sheer size of the document,” said chair of the LGA Children and Young People Board Shireen Ritchie.

“The intended improvement in practice that the guide seeks to achieve will not be met if busy professionals have to wade through mounds of descriptive text that has the effect of diminishing their engagement with the entire document.”

Ritchie said a target maximum of 100 pages would be enough.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), meanwhile, challenged whether any additional changes to the guidance added value. The organisation said key agencies and their specific safeguarding responsibilities should be more prominent in the document, with general information about services provided as appendices.

The ADCS also noted several issues covered in the guidance that it believes belonged in other documents. The association said too much room was given to descriptions of somewhat marginal services and initiatives, such as the Family Nurse Partnership, which it argued did not belong in the document.

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