IROs, all practitioners, should read this statutory guidance in full.
Comment by Sharon Martin, NIROMP Chair
“I am pleased to see that there has been some strengthening of the child’s voice in the guidance, but I am disappointed that the government has not taken the opportunity to strengthen children’s rights in the new guidance”.
What children want from an effective safeguarding system
Children are clear about what they want from an effective safeguarding system. Page 10 helpfully sets out these asks from children. This should guide the behaviour of all practitioners:
- vigilance: to have adults notice when things are troubling them
- understanding and action: to understand what is happening; to be heard and
understood; and to have that understanding acted upon
- stability: to be able to develop an ongoing stable relationship of trust with those helping them
- respect: to be treated with the expectation that they are competent rather than not
- information and engagement: to be informed about and involved in procedures,
decisions, concerns and plans
- explanation: to be informed of the outcome of assessments and decisions and reasons when their views have not met with a positive response
- support: to be provided with support in their own right as well as a member of their family
- advocacy: to be provided with advocacy to assist them in putting forward their views
- protection: to be protected against all forms of abuse and discrimination and the right to special protection and help if a refugee
Equalities and children’s entitlements
This section is disappointingly limited. During the revision process the government had said it would be considering the emphasis given to the child’s voice and children’s rights but there seems to have been no strengthening of this in the guidance. It contains nothing about children’s advocacy or the role of the IRO.
Page 11 summarises public authorities responsibilities in relation to equalities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – an international agreement that protects the rights of children. The Equality Act 2010 puts a responsibility on public authorities having due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity as applied to the process of identification of need and risk faced by the individual child and the process of assessment.
No child or group of children must be treated any less favourably than others in being able to access effective services which meet their particular needs
Local organisations and agencies should have a clear understanding of the collective needs of children locally when commissioning effective services and this guidance gives specific reference to the role of the Director of Public Health to ensure that the needs of children are a key part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). As part of that process, Safeguarding partners should use this assessment to help them understand the prevalence and contexts of need, including specific needs relating to disabled children and those relating to abuse and neglect, which in turn should help shape services.
Children returning home
Page 54 sets out the statutory guidance covering children returning home and gives emphasis to the importance of a clear plan for all children who return home that reflects “current and previous assessments, focuses on outcomes and includes details of services and support required”.
Do download and read this statutory guidance in full: Working Together to Safeguard Children A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children July 2018