Staff at Warwickshire Council, including Rita Luck and Michelle King, share their ideas on best practice
The Children’s Plan, a blueprint for children’s services in England published in 2007, highlighted the importance of involving parents and children in the design and delivery of services.
Staff at Warwickshire Council have produced the following messages for practitioners for involving families in the child protection process, following an extensive piece of research into this area.
Policy and procedure
Participation should be a key theme throughout the child protection process. The rationale for this should be made explicit within standards and procedures relating to all stages of the process. In particular, procedures for informing families, including children and young people, of the outcomes of meetings should be formalised and monitored.
Neither age nor ability should pose a barrier to participation. If a child is unable to participate in the process due to reasons of age or understanding, alternative means of gathering their views should be sought.
Where parents or family members require assisted involvement in the process, these needs should be assessed and addressed.
Training should address the responsibility of all professionals involved in the child protection process to promote the participation of children, and other family members.
Some professionals lack clarity around the contribution that they can make to this key element of the process.
Schools often have established relationships with children and their families and consequently can provide a wealth of information. Social workers should explore these links in order to improve and enhance the involvement of children and young people, particularly in the case of primary school-age children who can be reluctant to talk to those they don’t know well.
The unique role of the advocate ensures that the process is enhanced with the views of children and young people. Social care teams should ensure that the use of advocacy services is promoted and encouraged throughout the process and that referral systems for this service are efficient.
While children and families are often involuntary clients of these services, their involvement should be integral to the child protection process.
This article is published in the 10 June 2010 edition of Community Care magazine under the headline Involving Families in Safeguarding