Areas piloting new multi-agency child safeguarding arrangements have emphasised the potential that the new ways of working have to innovate how organisations and practitioners cooperate for the benefit of children and young people in their area.
From 2019, new multi-agency arrangements for safeguarding are being rolled out nationally. The plans will see senior representatives from local authorities, police and health services, take joint responsibility for leading work to safeguard children.
The Safeguarding Early Adopter Programme, a cross-government initiative involving the Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care, and the Home Office, brought together 17 projects across the country to develop new and innovative approaches in the new arrangements. The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) facilitated the programme, supporting areas to explore opportunities, overcome implementation challenges and disseminate key lessons that were identified.
The final report of the programme highlights that:
· The changes to the statutory framework present a range of opportunities for partners to be innovative and facilitate improvements in their local safeguarding arrangements, particularly in terms of involving children and young people in the process and learning more quickly from case reviews.
· While in the short-term, areas should focus on a limited range of improvements in implementation, this should be part of a gradual longer term transformation plan towards improving outcomes for children and young people.
· Attention should be paid to ensuring leaders in local authorities, police and health come together in an equal partnership that engages with other relevant agencies and practitioners, including those in education organisations and the voluntary and community sector.
· Collaboration across areas where there are shared priorities can allow for streamlined processes, the sharing of intelligence and may reduce duplication.
· Scrutiny should be integrated throughout the arrangements and there can be diversity in the structure of the executive board, the chair’s function and the use of independent scrutiny.
· A learning culture should be embedded into arrangements and plans should adapt over time.
Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said:
‘We’ve seen the potential that the new ways of co-operating to safeguard children can have. The central message for those just starting on this journey, is that the transition to the new legal framework is just the beginning. If agencies embrace this opportunity and establish a bold vision for safeguarding children that is responsive, efficient and dynamic, then there is every reason to believe they can bring about significant improvements in how they protect children.’