In the UK and internationally the face of public services has changed dramatically in the past three decades. This is as a result of political beliefs and fast moving government policies that impact on provision in the wake of the financial crisis.
This has influenced how we as professionals will conduct and need to change to perform our everyday business.
Organisations need to develop a more competitive and detailed understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing them, together with the creativity and willingness to consider more radical approaches and solutions.
The requirements, therefore, have to follow:
- a partnership approach, working across professional boundaries
- shared and integrated approaches to safeguarding children
- project and management approaches to change and improvement
- outcome-based approaches to develop services across partnerships.
For professionals involved in safeguarding children and their families it is a journey of discovery.
This journey starts at the first point of contact through assessing a child’s needs and whether these are met in some cases during the discovery of significant harm or likelihood of harm.
The safety of a child needs to be ensured by all professionals and through the use of processes and procedures. Each step requires a staged approach to information gathering, planning and intervention and an evidence-based complete picture early identification, victim identification and harm reduction.
Safeguarding covers a host of children’s needs, from those experiencing mild developmental delays to those facing complex and deep-rooted problems and developmental impairment, including children who are at risk of harm.
Effective safeguarding is everybody’s business
All agencies working with children and families have a duty to safeguard and promote children’s welfare. The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard
Children defines this as:
- protecting them from harm
- preventing impairment of their health and development
- ensuring they grow up in a safe and caring environment
- taking action to ensure they have the best outcomes.
There is key guidance and legislation that assists us in risk management and analysis ensuring that the compliance element is met.
Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) identifies the critical features of effective Early Help as:
- A multi-disciplinary approach that brings a range of professional skills and expertise to bear through a “Team around the Child” approach
- A relationship with a trusted lead professional who can engage with the child and their family, and coordinate the support needed from other agencies
- Practice that empowers families and helps them to develop the capacity to resolve their own problems
- A holistic approach that addresses the children’s needs in the wider family context
- Simple, streamlined referral and assessment process.
“Where need is relatively low level individual services and universal services may be able to take swift action. For other emerging needs a range of early help services may be required, coordinated through an early help assessment, as set out above. Where there are more complex needs, help may be provided under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (children in need). Where there are child protection concerns (reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm) local authority social care services must make enquiries and decide if any action must be taken under section 47 of the Children Act 1989.” Working Together 2015.
There is compelling evidence of the need for interagency working at all stages of intervention.
Five key documents were published during 2010 and 2011 that reinforced the need for Early Help:
- the Graham Allen reports on intervening early in a child’s life
- the Field report on preventing generational poverty
- the Munro review of children’s care services
- the Tickell review of Early years and the Marmot review of Health.
All make a strong and compelling case for Early Help and that no one agency can provide this support alone and greater co-ordination and joint working across and within agencies is required.
Recommendation 10 of the final Munro Report on child protection suggests that local authorities and other statutory partners should secure sufficient provision of local early help services for children, young people and families. Local authority areas should set out arrangements for early help and these should include: “specifying the range of professional help available to local children, young people and families, through statutory, voluntary and community services, against the local profile of need set out in the local Joint Strategic Needs Analysis (JSNA);
- specifying how they will identify children who are suffering or who are likely to suffer significant harm……;
- setting out the local resourcing of the early help services for children, young people and families;
- the identification of the early help that is needed by and the criteria for receiving children’s social care services [sic]”.
Inter professional practice is not new – the context have changed in which we work within – team work and also leadership remains key.
Inspections are hugely important functions and must get to the heart of how well vulnerable children are identified, protected and looked after, and the difference this makes to their lives.
To meet this order we must ensure services meet the requirements of management responsibility, resource management, service realisation and analysis and continue improvement
- to ensure you identify opportunities to streamline work and reduce waste in your organisation
- to ensure that your staff have efficient workflows, save time and money, allowing you to reduce wasted time and effort.
Organisations now must strengthen quality of practice and to understand where they are and how they can quickly move forward and excel at what they are doing.
To meet changing needs organisations must be flexible in their approach and focus on how to continually improve the service they provide.
By Marisa De Jager