AILC Newsletter - August 2018

 Chair's Update -  by David Ashcroft

Welcome to the summer edition of our newsletter and best wishes to all those who are enjoying a break, have done so or are about to do so. Having had a few days myself on leave last month I realised again how the pace of change and general busyness can become an inhibition on reflection and quiet concentration on the things that matter – over the course of the coming year we need to keep a measured focus on outcomes for children and our shared capacity to encourage effective working together.

That is one of the reasons why I am writing to all chairs, business managers and LSCBs who are not members to ask them again to consider joining the Association during this coming year of change. It is only with a strong collective voice that we can argue for and support the best of new innovations and reform, and help each other navigate the turbulent waters of funding, priorities and new expectations. Already we are finding that business managers and chairs are sharing common queries around the implications of WT 2018, and the large number of unanswered questions - especially about the arrangements for SCRs/Practice Reviews and the role of the National Panel. CDOP arrangements remain uncertain in many areas, and the work of early adopters may not engage with all the local variations that we anticipate. Already the Department has approached the Association to work with them to help solve this uncertainty. Our response has been that we are, of course, willing to do so, but that much could have been done to narrow the areas of doubt by clearer statements of the purpose and functions for local MASAs.

As I commented last month, the final published version of Working Together offers considerable opportunities for new innovation and local adaptability – but also risks a retreat to the lowest common denominator in safeguarding partnerships. The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children calls for the Government to review within 12 months of implementation the impact of new local arrangements to ensure a consistent approach to child protection. We welcome this call – and I am pleased that the Chair of the APPGC, Tim Loughton MP, has agreed to attend our national conference in November where we can debate the progress being made.

Booking for the Conference is now open to members and our final programme is taking shape. Please use our website to book your place.

In line with our changing remit and to ensure that the Association is managing its resources effectively in tightened circumstances, the Board has proposed changes to our staffing arrangements. These are currently being discussed with those affected and we anticipate that they will be in place during September. Our staff team and directors work extremely hard, and with great commitment for the Association – often doing far more than they are contracted for – but it is important that we live within our means and are in a position to plan positively for future development and change. We continue to explore how we can build alliances and collaboration with others involved with and leading safeguarding work – beyond the distinctive work of chairs and business managers.

Early next month we will be inviting you to participate in our next survey of local changes – seeking to chart how far new arrangements are coming into being and identifying the remaining challenges and opportunities. Please respond promptly so we can bring this information to the Conference for discussion and use the forum as a means of debate.

The impact of austerity and cuts to local government and other services has been a major topic in the news for the last few weeks. Colleagues in Northamptonshire, East Sussex and other areas will have had much speculation about the risks to children and vulnerable adults where services are in danger of reduction to no more than the statutory minimum. I believe that it is important that both locally and nationally chairs and LSCBs should be prepared to point out the risks for children and young people – not necessarily as part of the political debate – but as part of our responsibility to hold partners to account. Please let me know if you feel that the Association should take a more public stance on these issues – and keep us posted of local implications and decisions that you feel increase risks and reduce capacity. The significance of effective local threshold documents and the need to take a whole system view – not just looking at the access to children’s social care – are really important if children and young people are to be kept safe and offered the support and well-being they deserve.

David Ashcroft, Chair 

Association News

Working Together’ Update

 Charting the Changes

Now that the DfE programme of Early Adopters is underway, the Association is looking forward to working with NCB in its role as evaluator. In order to maintain and adjust to this welcome development the Association is re-targeting its work with partnerships and chairs to continue to add, better understand and share the emerging picture and issues across the country. We will be launching in September a new survey to chart and share the changes with you, and will also shortly be launching an interactive forum on the website to support networking and the exchange of experience. The issues for areas who are not early adopters are of particular interest – what are the barriers to new arrangements.

Timetable

An updated WT18 Briefing has just been published by AILC, with Transition Timescales here.This includes a summary of key matters emboldened to act as a checklist when developing your new arrangements towards MASAs. DfE’s implementation timetable is:

  • From now – safeguarding partners should start to plan the new arrangements and any transitional arrangements required, including in respect of live serious case reviews
  • July 2018Government published WT18 with associated guidance and announced 17 areas as ‘early adopters’, which will work with the National Children’s Bureau to implement new local safeguarding arrangements and identify learning before they are established across the rest of the country.
  • July – October 2018 – early adopters identify and share their learning with other areas.
  • By June 2019 – all areas should have published their plans and notified government
  • By September 2019 – all areas should have implemented their plans
  • Beyond September 2019 - If uncompleted SCRs remain - the statutory role of chairs and LSCBs to oversee SCRs will continue if there are still uncompleted reviews


AILC’s A-Z of Effective Safeguarding Partnership - LSCB Examples - Updated August 2018

You can now access 40 new LSCB examples of Effective Safeguarding Partnerships – is your LSCB represented in the A-Z Directory here? You can search for information to help your LSCB within the 46 topics, categorized for ease of use, with both LSCB “Process” topics and abuse/neglect “Subject” topics. Against each topic is the name of the LSCB with information/policy documents etc., There are now 176 examples of these as at 1st August 2018 - a few of which are listed below. Please do submit further local examples or updates, to policy@lscbchairs.org.uk

News from LSCB Areas

Some of the recent uploads to the Effective Safeguarding Partnerships Directory here are:

  • Northumberland and Kingston & Richmond LSCBs Newsletters both have a list of Neglect Resources
  • Bath & North East Somerset LSCB’s Communication & Media Policy includes Leads, Sign Off and Contacts
  • Durham’s Annual Report is clear and colourful, with a good section on the importance of challenge
  • London Procedures have a new section on GDPR
  • Gloucestershire’s Safer Recruitment Accreditation is outlined within an extensive training programme.
  • Southend’s Strategic Plan 2018-2019 includes a comprehensive QA and Performance Monitoring Framework

Child Suicides in Reviews

 Has your LSCB held any reviews with suicides by children? In last month’s Newsletter we reported that Gill Rigg - Chair in Kent and Cumbria - has raised the question of whether or how Boards are responding to the apparent increase in teenage suicide. A number of you have kindly responded and we are now finalising a spreadsheet from your cases, together with info on the NSPCC website to ascertain the extent and decide next steps. We can see that some of these children are younger than teens and are we are looking at any basic themes.

See ‘How Safe Are Our Children’ below, showing that national child suicide rates are increasing.

If you have held any reviews on child suicides since 2016 please send in a line ASAP with the review date, any themes, anon case name, number of deaths and any other info for learning to Gill Rigg at gill.rigg@icloud.com or Sarah Webb policy@lscbchairs.org.uk.

Your National AILC Conference on 28th & 29th November 2018 at Crewe Hall “Partnerships for Safeguarding Children”

Your conference this year will provide information from the implementation of new arrangements, together with a wide range of topics relevant for developments towards the new MASAs. Please put the date in your diary now, ready for booking which will open later this month. Sally Lewis, Conference convenor can be contacted via info@lscbchairs.org.uk – Sally says; “Our conference will seek to be a balance of:

  • Information and discussion opportunity that will support LSCBs in transitioning to the new Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements
  • Sharing of ideas about the current best practices and initiatives in children safeguarding, maintaining best practices”
National News

‘Storing Up Trouble: A Postcode Lottery of Children's Social Care’ APPGC July 2018

Does where a child lives affect their chances of getting support, whatever their level of need, and is it getting generally harder for children and families to get help? This is one of the central research questions posed by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children culminating in a new report of interest to LSCBs and MASAs.

Analysis of 37 Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) threshold documents found some significant disparities in how local areas were addressing need, particularly in response to children who are self- harming, families with housing problems and even children experiencing physical abuse. It will be interesting to see how these disparities play out going forward in the new MASAs.

Responding to surveys carried out as part of this Inquiry, both social workers and Directors of Children’s Services said that locally agreed thresholds, as published by the LSCB, are one of the top three factors that influence decisions about the level of intervention or support (if any) a child receives. Directors of Children’s Services explained that the primary reason for this inconsistency is simply that some local authorities have more resource to fund ‘early help’ services than others.

AILC’s Chair David Ashcroft is quoted in an evidence session, recommending that, “We need to talk about the whole system”. Emma Lewell Buck noted “We are observing a worrying trend in children’s social care in which the shift towards late intervention is getting worse not better, the rate of re-referrals is increasing and cuts to early intervention mean that cases are being closed prematurely. “

The Inquiry heard that “some local authorities are encouraging a re-think of the process for assessing need and risk and providing appropriate support for children and families. David Ashcroft, Chair, Association of Independent Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, talked about his work as Chair of the Norfolk LSCB to develop a new child-centred approach which encourages professionals to have early conversations with families and make decisions based upon the child’s needs.”

Leeds LSCB was also highlighted and praised for its approach by Ofsted: ‘The [Local Children’s Safeguarding] Board exercises careful scrutiny of the transition from a traditional threshold management model to one where referrals receive considered conversations and responses based on the needs of children, rather than establishing whether a threshold has been met... Board partners, particularly schools (who are the biggest referrers), describe a discernible culture change from rigid threshold discussions with the front door, to one in which productive conversations are held, with growing confidence that the early help offer in clusters is providing reliable, robust and appropriate alternatives based on need and risk.’

‘Distress Signals: Unaccompanied Young People's Struggle for Mental Health Care’

This new report on UASCs by the Children’s Society found that “Lack of awareness and training among paediatricians, GPs, social workers and other professionals working closely with young people hinder identification of mental health need among unaccompanied young people.”

An important report for LSCBs - Sam Royston, The Children’s Society’s Director, Policy and Research says that “low awareness among professionals and services about young refugees’ needs, as well as language barriers, all contribute to making their pain worse. There’s a lot that local and national government can do to help child refugees recover and rebuild their lives” The report is here.

Contextual Safeguarding Apply by 18th September 2018 for Support to your Local Area

Contextual Safeguarding has designed a ‘Scale Up’ project funded by the Big Lottery to offer three local areas the chance of support until 2022 to embed Contextual Safeguarding into their Children and Family service. Having spent a year in the London Borough of Hackney initiating the first Contextual Safeguarding system, we have generated resources, approaches and practical understanding that we now want to offer up to others.

Supported by a Contextual Safeguarding hub at the University of Bedfordshire comprised of a coordinator, researcher, social worker, administrator and headed up by Dr Carlene Firmin, each site will be supported to create an approach that works for them to receive contextual referrals into the front door, screen and assess those referrals, plan and intervene with harm identified in peer groups, school, neighbourhood and online settings. Find out more/apply on the project webpageSites will be selected by November through a multi-stage application process - expressions of interest close on 18th September 2018.

‘How Safe Are Our Children’ NSPCC 2018

This year’s NSPCC report sets out what the available data tells us about the current child protection landscape, and takes a closer look at how safe children are online. The report highlights:

  • There have been increases in police-recorded child sexual offences across the UK and increases in child cruelty and neglect offences in all UK nations except Scotland
  • The last decade has also seen increased numbers of children on child protection plans and registers
  • Almost a quarter of young people were contacted online by an adult they did not know
  • Since the offence of communicating indecently with a child was introduced in England and Wales in April 2017, over 3,000 crimes have been recorded by the police

LSCBs will also be interested to note that the child death from assault/abuse rate has declined slightly over recent years, but suicide amongst 15-19 year olds, previously in decline, have now started to rise in recent years - up 25.7 per cent since the average for 2006 to 2010. There were 115 suicides in England where death was recorded as by intentional self-harm, and a further 28 deaths by undetermined intent of 15 to 19 year olds in 2016.

The report notes: “Research suggests that social and economic factors influence the risk of suicide.”

Revolving Door: Are We Failing Children at Risk of Abuse and Neglect? Action for Children

A new Action for Children Report here, Illustrates concern that opportunities to intervene early are being missed. Some children are stuck in a revolving door into social care, in a cycle of referral and assessment, but only receiving help at crisis point. The Revolving Door report notes that between 2010 and 2017 there has been a:

  • 13% increase in the number of children in care
  • 31% increase in the number of children subject to a child protection plan and
  • 108% increase in child protection investigations.

“And yet there was a £2.4 billion real terms cut in central government funding for children and young people’s services between 2010/2011 and 2015/2016.”

 Contact the Association
 Please phone the Association on 07880 209 788 if you would like any help at all, or email info@lscbchairs.org.uk if you have queries or comments.
  • Does this Newsletter meet your needs?
  • What else would you like to see covered? 
I always welcome feedback on the Newsletter or the activity of the Association. Please contact me at chair@lscbchairs.org.uk

With best wishes,

David Ashcroft
AILC Chair

www.lscbchairs.org.uk
Association Phone 07880 209788
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