Policy

Supporting social workers to provide help and protection to children

Issue

In the year 2011 to 2012, over 600,000 children in England were referred to local authority children’s social care services because of concerns about their welfare. It is the role of social workers to lead the assessment of the needs of these children and make sure effective action is taken quickly to protect them from harm.

We believe children are best protected when professionals are clear about what is required of them individually and are able to work together with other professionals in the interest of vulnerable children.

We are committed to raising the quality of social workers and clarifying their (and other professionals’) responsibilities in helping children.

We also need to make sure social workers can exercise their professional judgement in the best interests of vulnerable children.

Actions

To make our child protection system more effective, we will:

  • enforce revised statutory guidance which clarifies the responsibilities of different professionals in promoting the welfare of children and protecting them from harm
  • introduce more effective inspections which concentrate on children’s experiences and the quality of social workers
  • make sure that local authorities whose child protection services are judged not good enough by Ofsted improve immediately
  • reform the system of serious case reviews (SCRs) so social workers are able to learn the lessons from serious child protection incidents and improve future services

To improve the quality of the social work profession, we will:

Background

On 10 June 2010, we announced the launch of a review of the child safeguarding system headed by Professor Eileen Munro. As part of her review, Professor Munro consulted widely and held events with children and young people.

Professor Munro reported in 2011 and we accepted many of her recommendations, including removing the requirement to have separate ‘initial’ and ‘core’ assessments of children in need and removing the 10-working-day timescale for completion of the initial assessment.

Professor Munro also recommended revising statutory guidance and changing the approach to SCRs. In order to ensure that lessons are learned from SCRs, we established a national panel of independent experts that will provide advice to local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) about how to apply SCR criteria and the requirement to publish reports.

These changes were implemented with the publication of ‘Working together to safeguard children: a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children’ in March 2013.

Professor Munro also recommended appointing a chief social worker to report to the government on how effective professionals are at helping children and families and to advise on good social work practice. On 17 May 2013, the Secretary of State announced the appointment of Isabelle Trowler as Chief Social Worker for Children and Families.

Who we’ve consulted

The ‘Consultation on revised safeguarding statutory guidance’ ran from 12 June to 4 September 2012. It sought views on 3 statutory documents from LSCBs, local authorities, schools, social workers, and the voluntary and community sector, among others. As part of the consultation, we considered messages from children about the safeguarding and child protection system provided to us by the Children’s Commissioner and the Office of the Children’s Rights Director. The consultation received over 460 responses.

Bills and legislation

Legislation about child protection is covered in:

Who we’re working with

We are working with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Local Government Association and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) on reforms to the child safeguarding system.

We are working with the same bodies, as well as the Association of Independent Chairs of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, on reforms to the SCR system.

We are also working with Skills for Care on putting the ASYE into practice.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.