Munro: Thresholds are wrong for children’s services

Thresholds should not be applied to children's services, according to Professor Eileen Munro, who has been put in charge of the government's review of children's social care.

Thresholds should not be applied to children’s services, according to Professor Eileen Munro, who has been put in charge of the government’s review of children’s social care.

“They’re the wrong concept in this area,” she told Community Care in an exclusive interview alongside children’s minister Tim Loughton.

“If you’re dealing with a child, you don’t have a threshold for removal. You look at this unique child and the dangers in his home setting, whether you can work with them and remove those dangers or whether you have to remove him.”

Munro said there was not a unique threshold across the country because each case depended on available resources. She could not see how social workers could effectively assess risk based on a check-list of threshold requirements.

“Being prepared to tolerate a child living in more adverse circumstances if they fall below the threshold, weighting it that way, I’m curious to know if that does happen,” she said.

“If social workers are making good risk assessments, they have a basis for comparison. I think, more often, it’s woolly risk assessments that make people leave a child because they haven’t created the evidence to come to the firm conclusion that it’s not safe enough.”

Based on this principle, Munro said she would not be recommending tight government guidelines on thresholds in her review.

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