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Local Government Association News

Safeguarding Shake-up

The quarterly meeting of Staffordshire’s safeguarding children board used to be an unwieldy affair, with anything up to 35 people in attendance. ‘It was not pro-active in holding everyone to account,’ says Mark Sutton, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people.

Since early 2019, things have become more streamlined. Key decisions are made by an executive of four, including the directors of children’s services from Stoke as well as Staffordshire, along with the assistant chief constable for Staffordshire and a representative of local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

The restructuring is good news for the police, which no longer need to attend board meetings in both local authorities. It also follows an instruction from Government for councils in England to scrap safeguarding children boards and focus on the three main players in child protection - councils, the police and health.

Mr Sutton stresses that other organisations are not being overlooked and have their say via partnership groups that report to the executive. There is particularly close liaison with schools through head teacher forums. But the important thing is not structure, but what can be done to ensure the well-being of children in the home and wider community. ‘We wanted more emphasis on prevention and early intervention,’ he says. Local safeguarding children boards (LCSBs) were created by the 2004 Children Act, following the Victoria Climbie case, and calls for better child protection. Each board covered a single local authority and had an independent chair.

Two years ago, the Wood Review led to the Children and Social Work Act, with the Government inviting councils to come up with better multi-agency arrangements. These must be in place by the end of this month [Sept]. Collaboration between local authorities is a feature of some, but not all, of the new partnerships. Six councils are working together in Tyne and Wear while eight in north London are liaising on child death reviews (carried out when a child dies).

Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham have formed a safeguarding partnership that ties in with Berkshire West CCG and Thames Valley Police. In addition to the merged board, which began operating in 2018, three independent scrutiny groups (one for each local authority) challenge each other to deliver better results.

Liz Stead, head of safeguarding children at the CCG, says the new arrangements are more suited to the risks now facing children, including child sexual exploitation and problems posed by social media. While there have been some ‘difficult conversations’, everyone is committed to more scrutiny and accountability, she adds. ‘We need to pick things apart so that we can assure children and families that we’re doing the best we can.’

Jenny Coles, vice president of the Association and Directors of Children’s Services, says the new arrangements focus more on learning as well as scrutiny, with each of the main partners enjoying equal status. ‘In the past there was a feeling that local authorities could stand alone,’ she says. In Hertfordshire, where Ms Coles is director of children’s services, the council set up a safeguarding partnership with an executive board and learning hubs to cover the main issues facing practitioners. These include emotional health and well-being, youth violence and neglect.

The chair of the former LSCB is an independent scrutineer, charged with looking at individual areas of practice. Schools are closely involved, particularly in areas such as child sexual exploitation, while families are consulted more on domestic violence. ‘It’s about involving young people and hearing the families’ voice,’ she adds.

The replacement of LCSBs with new partnerships coincides with the creation of a national child safeguarding practice review panel, which looks at major cases.

In Birmingham, the new safeguarding partnership worked with 13 other authorities to produce regional guidance for safeguarding practice reviews, carried out when a child dies or suffers a life-changing injury due to suspected abuse.

Local partners must decide within 15 working days whether there should be a local review or if the case is serious enough for the national panel. ‘It’s not about a blame culture,’ says Simon Cross, the partnership’s business manager. ‘It’s about what we learn from it.’

Previously, Birmingham’s LCSB had about 45 members. ‘If you’re not careful, you have meetings the size of seminars,’ adds Mr Cross. Now there is an executive of 15, with each meeting jointly chaired by the city council, West Midlands Police and Birmingham and Solihull CCG

Last year, the National Children’s Bureau set up an ‘early adopters’ programme on behalf of the government, covering a total of 39 councils. Dan Martin, principal officer for social care at the NCB, says these came up with a range of solutions to suit their area.

Councils not involved in the programme, but which must still have new arrangements in place by October, can now see what is working elsewhere. ‘It’s possible that we will see more alignment over the next 18 months as areas see what others are doing,’ he says.

In Tyne and Wear, six councils are forming a regional partnership based on the area covered by Northumbria Police. But, says Cathy McEvoy-Carr, director of children’s services in Northumberland, each authority will still a keep close eye on operational issues locally. ‘You will always need local arrangements that consider issues and trends,’ she says. ‘The strength in having the partnership is that we can learn from one another.’

It is being left up to local areas to decide how the new partnerships are funded, and to what extent councils continue to foot most of the bill. Areas can select the other partners involved, though they are expected to work with schools, the voluntary sector and faith groups.

Emma Ford, head of safeguarding in Salford, welcomes the flexibility available to utilise external partners and is keen to consult the community. During the next year, a project is aiming to discover more about life for young people in Salford and how well services are working. ‘If we can go to the community so that it tells us our priorities and owns our priorities, it will tell us how much safer the community should be,’ she says.

 

Six Steps for Independent Scrutiny: Safeguarding Children Partnership Arrangements

Jenny Pearce, Independent Chair for the Triborough LSCBs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster) has prepared a paper on "Six Steps for Independent Scrutiny: Safeguarding Children Partnership Arrangements". It should be noted that the Six Steps outlined are not intended as a check list for an inspection. It is intended as a tool for partners to use separately and together to develop and reflect on the safeguarding children plan with desired outcomes. We thank Jenny for sharing this with our colleagues.

To download the document, click below.

Preparing for the post LSCB world


Following extensive consultation with members and other stakeholders the Directors of AILC have decided in readiness for the transition to the new Multi Agency Safeguarding Arrangements (MASA) that by September AILC will have closed and a new Association will have been formed.

Feedback from all was clear that the new partnership arrangements would benefit from an association they could belong to, that would help provide focus, share learning and give prominence to the role safeguarding  partnerships play in protecting children and young people.

The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) is being registered as a Charitable Interest Organisations and interim trustees are being appointed. A slimmed down AILC Board will support the formation of the new arrangements, and for the transition period AILC resources will be used where possible.

However without support, TASP may not be viable. So far, we are pleased with the response to our earlier request for expression of interest. It is of course difficult, as many of the new arrangements are still in the transition process. We will, however, require further support to be able to build on the TASP offer.  

The  TASP offer is primarily focused on partnership/MASA arrangements on the basis of one annual fee which will provide alongside the wider benefits dedicated access to the website and discounts for the conference for 5 people/roles.

Once the new landscape has settled we intend in 2020 to look at a proportionate fee structure and to focus on the different roles people play through the one membership subscription. It also important note that for the first time we are welcoming and including other forms of safeguarding arrangements and partnerships, as we recognise that across the voluntary and private sector many organisations are turning to the partnership approach to safeguarding.

So whatever your role or interest we would welcome further expressions of interest in membership from safeguarifng partnerships, especially as the new MASA plans are published and arrangements launched. Contact us for more information at info@lscbchairs.org.uk

National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel Publishes Practice Guidance - April, 2019.

The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel has published practice guidance setting out what the panel does, how it has worked to date since its inception and its practice principles. As set out in Working Together 2018, safeguarding partners and LSCBs should have regard to any guidance the Panel publishes. The Panel’s guidance can be found here.
 
The Panel has set up a pool of reviewers who are able to undertake and support national reviews into cases or themes of national importance or which are complex.  The Panel has published a list of those in this pool, which can be found here. AILC also have a FULL list of SCR authors which can be accessed through membership. Email Frankie at frankie.good@lscbchairs.org.uk for membership details. 
 

Working Together 2018 - Child Death Statutory Guidance - Published Oct 2018

LSCB’s who are currently responsible for present CDOP arrangements will need to be aware of this publication (see below document) as these will inform and shape consideration of how new arrangements generally (MASA) and the revised arrangements for Child Death Review, more specifically are developed. The Early Adopters programme includes a number of local arrangements where this is being considered.

Please share and post any questions and or developments on the Members Forum.



  DfE publishes revised Working Together to Safeguard Children

July 2018
Department for Education has published two pieces of statutory safeguarding guidance which set the framework within which all practitioners should operate in order to protect children from abuse and neglect and promote their best interests.

These are:

  • Revised Working Together to Safeguard Children statutory guidance; and
  • Local Safeguarding – Transitional Arrangements statutory guidance.

You can find these documents on the DfE website here.

AILC has produced a Briefing on the new Working Together and related guidance, including the Transition Timetable for all aspects. Click here.

AILC Press Release on Ofsted Inspection Report April 2018

AILC has issued a Press Release on our recent report, analysing Ofsted Inspections. which shows that 60% of LSCBs have been rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ during the last series of Ofsted inspections between April and December 2017.


This report highlights the important role played by chairs as key influencers in wider leadership and governance arrangements, ensuring that these focus on effective safeguarding outcomes for children and young people.

David Ashcroft AILC"s Chair says in the Foreword:

“As we seek to implement new arrangements under the Children and Social Work Act, these reports are an endorsement of the work that almost every Board undertakes – led by robustly independent chairs and supported by skilled business managers and their teams."

We attach both the report and the press release below.



  DfE publishes a document setting out the responses to the Consultation

26 February 2018
Department for Education has published a document setting out their response to the submissions for the consultation on changes to the statutory guidance document ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and the child death review guidance.  
 
Subject to Parliamentary clearance of the underpinning regulations, a revised version of Working Together to Safeguard Children and the child death review guidance will be published in late May.  In the meantime the DfE will be reviewing the drafting.

AILC Submission to the Consultation on Working Together Changes - December 2017

AILC submitted its formal response to the consultation on the WT changes at the end of December.  AILC is hoping to have further constructive discussions on changes and amendments to the guidance and regulation, in line with the suggestions made across the sector on how these can be strengthen and improved. This document and the links to the submissions from LGA, BASW, ADCS & the Consultation response to the inclusion of Contextual Safeguarding in revised guidance from IC are all available on the Private Members page relating to the Children & Social Work Act progress. (Which is under Resources/CSW Act 2017 Members Only. You need to be logged in to the see the link.)

AILC Phase 2 Survey Report - November 2017

Following the Children & Social Work Act 2017 LSCB views on new safeguarding arrangements

This is the second of a series of surveys in relation to changes in safeguarding arrangements, as outlined in the recent Children & Social Work Act. It is undertaken by the Association of Independent Local Safeguarding Children Board Chairs (AILC) to ensure a regular flow of current information is captured, analysed and shared amongst LSCBs and partners at local, regional and national levels.

To go to the Survey, which is on our Members Page, click here.

Children and Social Work Act 2017

For Children and Social Work Act 2017 related information - guidance, timetable, reports and updates - please click on Resources, then click on the various CSW Act tabs relating to this subject. 

AILC Members Survey Report - June 2017

Another report by AILC published in June outlines LSCB Chair’s views following the Children & Social Work Act receiving Assent. The survey findings show that most LSCBs are currently staying the same, although some had already been working towards improvements – one such LSCB Chair says:
"We should be clear of the added benefit of any change before making it. The driver should be effectiveness”.

Planned outcomes of the survey here, are to share information and analysis across the country, and contribute to the wider context of change and transition.

Further surveys will be undertaken across the period during which government implement the changes resulting from the new Act- expected to be up until April 2019.