The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Safeguarding Pressures research

Safeguarding Pressures Phase 5

ADCS Safeguarding Pressures research has provided evidence of trends in safeguarding activity and the provision of services to children and their families based on information from local authorities in five phases spanning 2007/8 to 2015/16.

Through each phase, significant increases in safeguarding activity have been reported together with the range of contributing factors, including austerity.

Phase 5, consisting of a main report and two special thematic reports on early help (to be published in early 2017) and unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children brings the evidence base up to date in the current context in which children’s services are operating.

‘Despite small national increases or no change, there is evidence that more local authorities are reducing numbers of referrals, children subjects of child protection plans and children looked after but there is significant variation between local authorities’.

Evidence about early help and social care services was provided by 132 local authorities (87%), 19 interviews with directors and assistant directors of children’s services, and four case studies informed the latest version of the report.

Current and potential enablers for children’s services

71 authorities and 19 interviewees provided information about current and potential enablers for children’s services.
  • Strong integrated working either within the local authority, sub-regional or regional bases
  • The “excellent, creative and passionate people” working in authorities who are committed, responding to change and innovations and investing in them
  • Respondents and interviewees frequently cited the part that early help plays, and must continue to play. An increasing emphasis on and investment in targeted early help services is positive
  • Additional funding and freedoms provided by DfE Children’s Social Care Innovation programme funding (if successfully bid for) and other grants are enablers, especially for those local authorities seeking to make whole system changes
  • The right culture which is less risk-averse, shares responsibility, and is more asset based; exploring new ways of working; learning about and implementing ‘best practice’ approaches; new technology such as client record management systems; mobile working; and, better data and performance management were also cited as enablers in delivering effective children’s services
  • Implementation of Putting Children First (DfE, July 2016) and the forthcoming national fostering stocktake were also felt to be potential enablers to improving services and outcomes for children and young people.

There have been a number of publications over the past year, including ADCS’s own Pillars and Foundations (ADCS, 2016b) which urge a different approach to tackling rising demand for social care services.

The full Phase 5 report, executive summary and special thematic report on unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children can be found below along with two additional resources illustrating the national policy context:

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