Munro asks frontline workers what needs to change

Frontline workers are being asked to tell Professor Eileen Munro what they would like to keep and what should be discarded in the child protection system.

Teaming up with Community Care in the first instalment of a “virtual conversation” with frontline workers, Professor Munro has below set out her questions, reasons for asking them and how professionals can feed back their responses.

In a message to social workers, Munro said: “In June this year, the Secretary of State for Education asked me to conduct a review of child protection in England. Since that time, people with experience of the child protection system, including professionals and children and families, have shared frank views about why it does not work as well as it should. These views helped to inform my first report The Munro Review of Child Protection, Part One: A Systems Analysis.

“Since publishing this report, I have continued to research the child protection system in detail, working with experts in local areas to see what needs to change and the best ways to go about this. In my second report, to be submitted to ministers in the New Year, I shall outline some potential areas for reform. This will mark an important step towards the final recommendations I will make to government in April 2011.

“As part of this research, I would like to put some specific questions to a larger group of professionals. I hope some of you will answer them and I look forward to hearing your views. Please feel free to respond to all of the questions or just those you are most interested in.

“The first two questions relate to one of the government’s top priorities – getting rid of the unnecessary bureaucracy that can obstruct those working with children, young people and families. I would like to hear the widest possible range of views, from those working within the child protection system about the precise forms, processes, protocols, regulations and rules that get in the way.

“The next set of questions are about the environment in which child protection professionals operate, how their performance is monitored and the ways they are held accountable, both publicly and within their organisations.

“The final questions consider how professionals can provide early help and support for families quickly and efficiently, how to improve understanding of the capacity of universal services to support children, young people and families, and the principles that underpin a safe and effective contact and referral system.

“Thank you in advance to everyone who takes part.”


Reducing bureaucracy

1 What prescribed procedures and forms do you feel are unnecessary, overly time-consuming or cause you to duplicate work? (Please be as specific as possible – we need to know the name of precise forms and procedures and why they are unhelpful).

2 What factors prevent you from forming relationships with children and families, hearing and understanding their problems and offering appropriate help or interventions?

Performance and accountability

3 What child protection data do local areas need to collect to enable them to compare their results, be publicly accountable and drive their own improvement?

4 How can we create a system for learning from practice which counteracts blame and allows for critical professional reflection? How can the government most effectively support this?

5 What are the main barriers to child protection professionals, particularly social workers, and those who represent them, working effectively with the media so that their work is better understood? How could these be overcome?

Early help and support

6 What expertise is needed locally in universal services to identify children’s needs and support their assessment? What would the practical impact of developing this expertise in universal services be?

7 Would it be better if assessment was an ongoing activity rather than one defined by set points with set timescales? What would the practical implications of this be? (Assessment should be taken to include the common assessment and assessment that is undertaken as part of the statutory framework for children in need, including both initial and core assessments.)

8 Some local areas have introduced social work-led, multi-agency locality teams to help inform best next steps in respect of a child or young person, including whether a formal child protection intervention is needed. Do you think this is useful? Do you have evidence of it working well? What are the practical implications of this approach?

To answer any of the above questions email Professor Munro and write “Munro Review Questions” in the subject header. Make sure you include the number/s of the question you are answering and indicate your role or your interest in the review. You can also join the discussion amongst frontline workers on the CareSpace forum or email Judy Cooper, children’s channel editor at Community Care.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 17 January.

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