Revised safeguarding guidelines focus on the child

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More focus needs to be placed on the needs of children revised Government guidelines on safeguarding state.

guidelinesThe Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance was revised in response to recommendations from Professor Eileen Munro’s report, A child-centred system, which states that the focus needs to be taken away from processes and placed back onto the needs of children.

It clarifies the core legal requirements on individuals and organisations to keep children safe.

It sets out, in one place, the legal requirements that health services, social workers, police, schools and organisations that work with children must follow and emphasises that safeguarding is the responsibility of all professionals who work with children.

Professor Eileen Munro, author of A child-centred system, said, ‘I welcome today’s publication of the revised Working Together guidance. It marks an important step in reforming the confusing, prescriptive culture that has ruled professionals who work with children so they can focus more on how well they are helping children, young people and their families.

‘One of the most important recommendations in my report – to have guidance focusing on the core legal rules – was so those working to protect the welfare and needs of children can start to regain control of their practice while working within a clear framework so that different agencies know what to expect of each other.’

‘I also welcome the change in approach to conducting serious case reviews that I recommended so that we can really understand why tragedies happen and how we can learn from them.’ ‘Today’s announcement should give all those reforming frontline work with children the clarity and confidence to take those reforms forward.’

Children’s minister Edward Timpson said, ‘Eileen Munro’s review found that the system for safeguarding children focused on processes instead of the needs of children.

‘Today’s guidance makes absolutely clear the core legal requirements on all organisations and individuals working with children to promote their welfare and keep them safe. We expect professionals to use the guidance, along with their expertise and judgement, to tailor support to individual children and families. ‘This guidance will support professionals to take the right decisions and the right action to promote the welfare of children and keep them safe. Our most vulnerable children have the right to expect nothing less.’

Enver Solomon, director of evidence and impact at the National Children’s Bureau, said, ‘Every professional who comes into contact with children and young people – from teachers, youth workers, and nursery staff, to doctors and health professionals – has an important role to play in making sure children are safe and protected from harm. We welcome emphasis from the Government that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and that there are clear legal duties for individuals and organizations.’

‘However, it is important that there is careful monitoring of the loosening of deadlines in the revised guidance so it does not result in a return to the days of drift and delay. As there is a move away from more prescribed frameworks such as the CAF it is also vital that there is consistent high quality assessment, help and early support provided to children and families at risk whatever systems or approaches are in place in individual local authorities.’ ‘Professionals must be supported to tackle the difficult-to-spot and unclear cases in an age appropriate way, for example where older children and teenagers are involved, or for younger children and babies who are at risk of neglect.’

The guidance was published on 21 March and comes into effect from 15 April 2013.

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