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1.2 Underlying Policy, Principles and Values

Contents

  1. Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare
  2. Child Protection
  3. Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children
  4. Working in Partnership with Children and Families
  5. Time Scales
  6. Case Recording


1. Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare

Every Child Matters (2004) states that all children deserve to achieve their full potential.

The Early Help Assessment Procedure promotes multi-disciplinary and multi-agency working at an early stage in order to identify and provide services to Children in Need of additional support before their needs escalate.

Part III of the Children Act 1989 makes clear that:

  • It is the duty of the state through local authorities to both safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children;
  • It is in the children's best interests to be brought up in their own families wherever possible;
  • Whilst it is parent’s responsibility to bring up their children, they may need assistance from time to time to do so;
  • They should be able to call upon services, including accommodation (under section 20 of the Children Act 1989), from or with the help of the local authority when they are required.

The notion of partnership between state and families is thus established in this part of the Act.

Safeguarding has two elements:

  • A duty to protect children from maltreatment;
  • A duty to prevent impairment of health and development.

Promoting welfare involves:

  • Creating opportunities to enable children to have optimum life chances in adulthood;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.

Safeguarding children should therefore not be seen as a separate activity from promoting their welfare, as safeguarding or protecting a child from Significant Harm is an aspect of promoting a child's welfare.


2. Child Protection

All children provided with services and/or subject of an assessment by Children’s Social Care, are Children in Need. Some of these children will be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, and therefore one of the needs of such children will be protection from Significant Harm.

Concern that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm may be the reason for a referral to Children’s Social Care or may arise during the course of providing services to a family. In such circumstances, the local authority is obliged to consider initiating enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 (Section 47 Enquiries) to find out what is happening to a child or whether action should be taken to protect a child.

The duty to both safeguard and promote the child's welfare continues throughout the process of finding out whether there are grounds for concern that a child may be suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm and deciding what action should be taken. Services may be provided to safeguard and promote the child's welfare while enquiries are being carried out, or after protective action has been taken.


3. Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

The Liverpool Safeguarding Children Board and all managers, employees, professionals, volunteers, carers, independent contractors and service providers must ensure that their practice reflects an approach which is:

  1. Child-centred

    The child should be seen (alone when appropriate) by the Lead Social Worker in addition to all other professionals who have a responsibility for the child’s welfare. His or her welfare should be kept sharply in focus in all work with the child and family. The significance of seeing and observing the child cannot be overstated. The child should be spoken and listened to, and their wishes and feelings ascertained, taken into account (having regard to their age and understanding) and recorded when making decisions about the provision of services. Some of the worst failures of the system have occurred when professionals have lost sight of the child and concentrated instead on their relationship with the adults.
  2. Rooted in child development

    Those working with children should have a detailed understanding of child development and how the quality of the care they are receiving can have an impact on their health and development. They should recognise that as children grow, they continue to develop their skills and abilities. Each stage, from infancy through middle years to adolescence, lays the foundation for more complex development. Plans and interventions to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare should be based on a clear assessment of the child’s developmental progress and the difficulties the child may be experiencing. Planned action should also be timely and appropriate for the child’s age and stage of development.
  3. Focused on outcomes for children

    When working directly with a child, any plan developed for the child and their family or care giver should be based on an assessment of the child’s developmental needs and the parents/caregivers’ capacity to respond to these needs within their family and environmental context. This plan should set out the planned outcomes for each child, progress against these should be regularly reviewed and the actual outcomes should be recorded.

    The purpose of all interventions should be to achieve the best possible outcomes for each child recognising each is unique. These outcomes should contribute to the key outcomes set out for all children set out in the Children Act 2004:
    1. Stay safe
    2. Be healthy
    3. Enjoy and achieve
    4. Make a positive contribution
    5. Achieve economic well being
  4. Holistic in approach

    Having an holistic approach means having an understanding of a child within the context of the child’s family (parents or care givers and the wider family) and of the educational setting, community and culture in which he or she is growing up. The interaction between the developmental needs of children, the capacities of parents or care givers to respond appropriately to those needs and the impact of wider family and environmental factors on children and on parenting capacity requires careful exploration during an assessment.

    The ultimate aim is to understand the child’s developmental needs and the capacity of the parents or caregivers to meet them and to provide appropriate services to the child and to the family which respond to those needs. The analysis of the child’s situation will inform planning and action in order to secure the best outcomes for the child, and will inform the subsequent review of the effectiveness of actions taken and services provided. The child’s context will be even more complex when they are living away from home and looked after by adults who do not have parental responsibility for them.
  5. Ensuring equality of opportunity

    Equality of opportunity means that all children have the opportunity to achieve the best possible developmental outcomes, regardless of their gender, ability, race, ethnicity, circumstances or age. Some vulnerable children may have been particularly disadvantaged in their access to important opportunities, and their health and educational needs will require particular attention in order to optimise their current welfare as well as their long-term outcomes into adulthood.
  6. Involving of children and families

    In the process of finding out what is happening to a child it is important to listen to the child, develop a therapeutic relationship with the child and through this gain an understanding of his or her wishes and feelings. The importance of developing a co-operative working relationship is emphasised, so that parents or care givers feel respected and informed, they believe agency staff are being open and honest with them, and in turn they are confident about providing vital information about their child, themselves and their circumstances. The consent of children, young people and their parents or care givers, where appropriate, should be obtained when sharing information unless to do so would place the child at risk of suffering Significant Harm. Similarly, decisions should also be made with their agreement, whenever possible, unless to do so would place the child at risk of suffering Significant Harm. See also Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure.
  7. Building on strengths as well as identifying difficulties

    Identifying both strengths (including resilience and protective factors) and difficulties (including vulnerabilities and risk factors) within the child, his or her family and the context in which they are living is important, as is considering how these factors are having an impact on the child’s health and development. Too often it has been found that a deficit model of working with families predominates in practice, and ignores crucial areas of success and effectiveness within the family on which to base interventions.

    Working with a child or family’s strengths becomes an important part of a plan to resolve difficulties.
  8. Integrated in approach

    From birth, there will be a variety of different agencies and services in the community involved with children and their development, particularly in relation to their health and education. Multi and inter-agency work to safeguard and promote children’s welfare starts as soon as it has been identified that the child or the family members have additional needs requiring support/services beyond universal services, not just when there are questions about possible harm.
  9. A continuing process not an event

    Understanding what is happening to a vulnerable child within the context of his or her family and the local community, and taking appropriate action are continuing and interactive processes and not single events. Assessment should continue throughout a period of intervention, and intervention may start at the beginning of an assessment.
  10. Providing and reviewing services

    Action and services should be provided according to the identified needs of the child and family in parallel with assessment where necessary. It is not necessary to await completion of the assessment process. Immediate and practical needs should be addressed alongside more complex and longer term ones. The impact of service provision on a child’s developmental progress should be reviewed at regular intervals.
  11. Informed by evidence

    Effective practice with children and families requires sound professional judgements which are underpinned by a rigorous evidence base, and draw on the practitioners knowledge and experience.

    Decisions based on these judgements should be kept under review, and take full account of any new information obtained during the course of work with the child and family.


4. Working in Partnership with Children and Families

Where there are concerns about Significant Harm to a child, and there may be compulsory intervention by Children’s Social Care in family life, parents should still be helped and encouraged to contribute as fully as possible in decisions about their child.

Family members usually have considerable information about members of and the history of the family. Well-founded decisions should draw upon this knowledge.

Partnership does not always mean agreeing with parents or other adult family members, nor always seeking a way forward which is acceptable to them. Professionals should always maintain a clear focus on safeguarding the child.

Family members should normally have the right to know what is being said about them. There should be a presumption of openness, joint decision making and willingness to listen to families and capitalise on their strengths, whilst maintaining the best interests of the child as the overarching principle.

Professionals should be honest and explicit about professional roles, responsibilities, powers and expectations and about what is not negotiable

Children and young people should, subject to age and understanding, be helped to understand child protection processes and how they can be involved and contribute to decision-making. They should understand that decisions will be taken in the light of all available information and not necessarily in accordance with their wishes.

At the point at which Children’s Social Care become involved with a child and family, information should be provided about advocacy services available within the local area and or nationally.

Independent advocates can play a vital role in supporting, explaining and preparing children and adults for the meetings such as Child Protection Conferences, Core Groups, Looked After Reviews and other processes involved in the safeguarding process.

In situations where a child or adult does not feel able to present their views directly, independent advocates can play a vital role in ensuring that such views are sought and expressed. Giving proper consideration to the views of children and other family members is an important aspect of assessment and planning in the process of safeguarding children and every effort should be made to seek and represent their views.


5. Time Scales

Any timescales referred to in the procedures are the minimum standards required by the Liverpool Safeguarding Children Board.

Where the welfare of the child requires it, shorter time-scales must be achieved.

Any extension to the time-scales must be authorised by the relevant manager following consultation with relevant managers from the other agencies.


6. Case Recording

Well-kept records provide an essential underpinning to good child protection practice. An individual agency’s or professional’s records should be clear, accurate and contemporaneous, ensuring that there is a documented account of contact with a child or family, and a record of face to face discussions and telephone conversations with other professionals, decisions made during such discussion, and responsibility for carrying out decisions made. This is an essential source of evidence for investigations and inquiries, and may also be disclosed in court proceedings.

Accurate recording is also essential to ensuring the accountability of agencies to those children and families with whom the agency is involved.

Safeguarding children requires information to be brought together from a number of sources and careful professional judgements to be made on the basis of this information. A multi-agency chronology of significant incidents is an important tool which social workers can use as part of their case recording at any stage of involvement with a family.

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