Category Archives: Safeguarding Children

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4.1. The majority of children live at home. This chapter focuses on children receiving universal services and children in need, including those in need of protection, children with disabilities and children on care orders who have been placed at home. It also considers children placed for adoption. Children encounter a wide range of agencies: schools, the NHS, and sometimes social services and the police. Also, agencies are increasingly commissioning services from the private and voluntary sectors as well as providing them directly.

4.2. This chapter looks at how well agencies safeguard children living at home, and, where possible, how children themselves feel about it. Some of the findings apply to children in all settings, not just those living at home. Evidence comes from mainstrea

m inspections of social services, schools and other education settings and health services and from a recent thematic inspection of the investigation and prevention of child abuse by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary [ref. 7 ]. This chapter does not cover in detail the experiences of children and young people in the private and voluntary health sector, although safeguarding arrangements are an important feature of the regulation and inspection work the Healthcare Commission has carried out in that sector since April 2004. Detailed findings are included in the Healthcare Commission’s published reports.

4.3. Special attention is given in this chapter to children with disabilities living at home, in line with the recommendation from the first Safeguarding Children report. Children with disabilities are especially vulnerable and research evidence suggests they are much more likely to suffer abuse and neglect than other children [refs. 8, and 9 ]. Welfare concerns sometimes go unnoticed because of the difficulties of identifying the signs of abuse or of communicating with some children, or because of reluctance by practitioners to suspect abuse.

4.4. There are varying definitions of disability in use. Alongside children with disabilities, we have considered other children with additional needs in this report in view of their increased vulnerability. This includes children with statements of special educational needs for emotional, behavioural and social difficulties as well as those with learning or physical disabilities. This chapter includes evidence about children with disabilities from social services and education inspections and from a special review of 10 special schools and 17 resource centres for pupils with special educational needs in mainstream schools.

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Conclusions

4.52 There has been considerable progress since 2002 in the extent to which agencies give priority to safeguarding children who live at home. This is illustrated by greater effort devoted to listening to and consulting with children, increased commitment at senior levels to safeguarding and more extensive inclusion of safeguarding in policies and procedures. Many agencies are now working together better, assisted by greater clarity about respective roles and responsibilities, and have put effort into improving working relationships. Also, there are many skilled and committed staff working with children and young people.

4.53 However, children are not uniformly receiving the care and protection they need and there are a number of key areas for improvement. Some of the issues will be addressed through the development of the Every Child Matters agenda, and agencies need to continue to build on the good work carried out since 2002. Areas for improvement include:

  • monitoring how extensively the safeguarding ethos spreads throughout organisations;
  • giving priority to the safeguarding needs of children with disabilities; children aged 16-18 with a mental health condition or a chronic illness; and children placed for adoption;
  • giving greater consideration to the complexity of working with children with language and communication difficulties;
  • clarifying for staff how to recognise and report the signs of abuse or neglect;
  • clarifying thresholds in social services to ensure that all children in need receive an adequate response;
  • improving relationships and communication between some agencies, for example between education and social services and NHS trusts and social services, especially where social services thresholds are perceived to be high. These need to be jointly addressed by the agencies concerned through the Every Child Matters: Change for Children agenda;
  • addressing the variation in the membership and effectiveness of ACPCs in consulting on and establishing Local Safeguarding Children Boards; and
  • ensuring consistent recruitment and checking procedures for new and existing staff and contractors who are in contact with children.

Children Seeking Asylum

7.2. This chapter also examines arrangements for children held with their families using evidence from HMI Prisons inspections of two immigration removal centres in England: Oakington (Cambridgeshire) and Tinsley House (West Sussex). The centre at Dungavel (South Lanarkshire) is outside the scope of this review, although asylum-seeking families based in England might be placed there pending deportation.

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Conclusions

7.37 Councils and other agencies face a challenging and complex task in planning and providing services for asylum-seeking children. This is compounded by factors often outside their control, including unpredictable numbers, difficulties in reconciling immigration requirements and welfare considerations, uncertainties about funding and scarcity of accurate information.

7.38 All the councils reviewed have a strong commitment to safeguarding asylum-seeking children, but those in London and the south east have greater experience of working with diverse communities and highly mobile populations. Some councils in the dispersal areas had under-estimated the range and levels of support needed and their lack of experience in meeting those needs.
7.39 Key areas for improvement include:

  • joint working between immigration officials and local agencies. Appointing qualified and experienced child care advisers to immigration officials would help reconcile immigration and welfare considerations, especially in relation to children in immigration removal centres;
  • information sharing between agencies. Some councils fail always to notify receiving councils of the placement of homeless families or unaccompanied asylum-seeking children;
  • assessment of welfare needs. Agencies coming into contact with asylum seekers may not always be referring children for assessments of children in need or possibly child protection issues, where necessary;
  • healthcare provision, particularly specialist mental health care;
  • identifying child protection concerns. Where concerns are picked up, they are normally handled equally well for asylum-seeking children as for others. Some issues may not be adequately identified, including private fostering, sexual exploitation and kidnapping for forced marriage;
  • matching unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to suitable foster carers, where some councils experience considerable difficulties. While this remains an intractable problem, some councils have developed innovative solutions from which others could learn;
  • service provision for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children aged 16-18 and support for over-18s not previously looked after; and
  • the welfare of children held in immigration removal centres. The lack of effective guidance and procedures, agreed between the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and local ACPCs, on child protection arrangements to be applied in immigration removal centres is of considerable concern. Such guidance should include immediate and continuing independent social services assessments, education and care plans and child protection team strategy conferences, which inform decisions about continuing detention.

Seeking Asylum

Please note, the content on this page only consists of the Introduction and Conclusion from this section of the report. To see the full section, or the entire report, please use the links on the left.

  • Introduction
  • Conclusions

Introduction

7.1. The first Safeguarding Children report identified children seeking asylum as a subject for further examination. It recommended

that inspection work should be carried out on safeguarding arrangements for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and the
children of refugees and asylum seekers. This chapter includes evidence from:

  • a review of five councils: two London boroughs and three councils outside London, which have received large numbers of asylum-seeking families with children since the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) dispersal scheme was set up in 2000;
  • CSCI’s Children’s Services Inspections, inspections of youth offending teams and Ofsted inspections of the education of asylum-seeking children; and
  • recent publications and additional discussions with social services managers involved in strategic planning and front-line services for asylum seekers.

2008 Report

The third joint chief inspectors’ review of arrangements to safeguard children was led by Ofsted on behalf of the eight inspectorates involved in regulating and inspecting services for children and young people.

The review looked at arrangements for safeguarding children and young people in four key areas:

  • the effectiveness of existing safeguarding systems and frameworks
  • the wider safeguarding role of public services
  • how well vulnerable groups of children and young people are safeguarded, including asylum-seeking children, children in secure settings, looked after children and children treated by health services
  • how well the relevant agencies deal with child protection concerns.

It found that much has changed since the last report was published in 2005. There is evidence of improvements in children’s services and in outcomes for children and young people.

Every Child Matters: Change for Children, the Children Act 2004 and other initiatives have provided a much-needed impetus for change.

Most children feel safe, and are safe, in their homes and communities.

However, some children are still not being well served. These children need particular attention to make sure that they are properly safeguarded. As in 2005, this includes some children who are looked after, children who are asylum seekers and children and young people in secure settings.

The report includes recommendations for all the agencies, local authorities, Local Safeguarding Children Boards and government departments that provide services for children.

Download the full report, the summary and the young person’s guide

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2005 report

What’s new

14 July 2006
Reminder on safeguarding recommendations

7 March 2006

Inspectorates welcome Government’s response to their Safeguarding children report

Download press release here29.00 kB

You can browse edited extracts of the report throughout the site or download PDFs of the report to the left.

  • Introduction
  • The focus of the review
  • Summary of key findings

 

Introduction

Over the last three years, there have been major developments in policy on children’s services, influenced significantly by the first Safeguarding Children (2002) report and the Victoria Climbié Inquiry report (2003). The Every Child

 

Matters programme, underpinned by the Children Act 2004 aims to improve outcomes for children in five key areas: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being. In children’s healthcare, the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services sets out a 10-year change programme across health and social care services and their interface with education, based on child-centred practice. Important changes in the youth justice system and the management of young people who commit offences have also helped to focus greater attention on children’s safeguards.

The 2002 review found that whilst all agencies accepted their responsibility to ensure that children were safeguarded, this was not always reflected in practice. Agencies were not always sufficiently committed to, or willing to fund, the work of Area Child Protection Committees (ACPC). Severe difficulties in recruiting and retaining professionals working in child protection and child welfare were also reducing the effectiveness of measures to safeguard children.

The 2005 review has been led by the Commission for Social Care Inspection and draws upon the individual and joint inspection activity of:

Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI)
The Healthcare Commission (CHAI)
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)
HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMiP)
HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP)
HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI)
HM Magistrates Inspectorate of Courts Administration (HMICA)
The Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED)

The review was presented to Government and published on 14 July 2005.

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The focus of the review

The review identified and analysed evidence relating to how well all children are safeguarded. Particular attention was paid to the safeguarding of specific groups of children identified in the first review including:

  • Children with disabilities
  • Children living away from home outside of their local area
  • Children who spend a long time in health settings
  • Children in secure or custodial settings
  • Children going through the justice system and
  • Children seeking asylum

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Summary of key findings

At a local level, the priority given to safeguarding children across local government, health services and the justice system has increased in the three years since the last review and the status of work in child protection and child welfare has improved. There are many examples of good practice and agencies are working together better to safeguard children.

Nonetheless, some recurring themes over the past three years across sectors and agencies cause significant concern:

  • Some agencies still give insufficient priority to safeguarding and children’s interests and there are some groups of children, including those with disabilities and those living away from home, whose needs are not always given sufficient recognition or priority;
  • There are still considerable concerns about the differing thresholds applied by social services in their child protection and family support work and about the lack of understanding of the role of social workers by other agencies; and
  • Continuing difficulties in recruitment and retention in some services affect their ability to safeguard children effectively and may restrict their capacity to deliver the new Every Child Matters arrangements.

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