The chair of the association of safeguarding children board chairs has expressed “considerable apprehension” about what the future of children’s services might be after next week’s spending review.
“From my 40 or more years of experience in this field, I approach the next few years with great apprehension and concern for the welfare of our children and young people,” David Jones wrote in the Independent Association of Local Safeguarding Children Board chairs’ annual report.
“We are publishing this report at a time of great unpredictability in services for children and families. The government has launched a Ministerial Task Force to review safeguarding and there is considerable apprehension about what the future might hold in the light of the Spending Review.”
He added: “The statistics show a steady increase in investigations where children are thought to be at risk and a slow increase in the number of young people coming into public care. At the same time we are witnessing unprecedented pressures on public budgets with threats of significant reductions in the very services of early help and prevention which are needed to reduce these trends.”
The “constant drip” of media reports and controversy that surrounds historical child abuse “drains morale of those working in the front-line”, Jones added.
The role of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board was placed under scrutiny last month when an Association of Directors of Children’s Services position paper outlined concerns about the quality of safeguarding chairs, and warned of a “mission creep” on their role.
The association had found securing resources for its “essential activities” hard, Jones said. The association is tasked with improving LSCB effectiveness, have an oversight on serious case reviews through its peer consultation scheme, and provide continuing professional development for LSCB chairs.
“Given the scale and complexity of safeguarding, the range of national and local stakeholders involved, the vulnerability of local Chairs and therefore their reasonable expectations of support and the high political and media profile of this work, it is disappointing,” Jones said.
The annual report listed some of the key development and successes had by the association this year, which included producing an induction toolkit for new chairs, designed ‘top tips’ for inspection and supported the development of the serious case review repository scheme.