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Child protection reforms welcomed

Professor Eileen Munro, author of the Government’s review of the child protection system, has said that a “culture change” is underway in the child protection system but outlined an urgent need to now accelerate reforms to create a more child-centred system.

According to Professor Munro, reforms have reached a “watershed moment” but, while progress is moving in the right direction, it now needs to move faster with more prescription and bureaucracy stripped away so social workers are able to focus on giving children and young people the help they need.

Professor Munro said social workers must be confident to use their judgement instead of applying rules that do not match a specific child’s needs.

Professor Munro highlights a number of areas of progress in her report, including:

  • The removal of fixed assessment timescales. The experience of the trial authorities who were granted exemptions from these statutory timescales has been positive. They report that the additional flexibility has encouraged better, more thoughtful working practices, and better and clearer consideration of priorities.
  • Ofsted’s revised child protection inspection framework. This rightly focuses on the impact and effectiveness of help and protection for children, young people and their families.
  • The report has found many encouraging examples of services working together and with social services to provide better understanding of children’s needs.

The report calls for faster progress in the following areas:

  • A reduction in statutory guidance so that there is more scope for professional and local autonomy. There has been a delay in implementing these changes, due to the need for proper public consultation.  Once this has been removed services should be better placed to work together to offer improved early help.
  • The Government needs to encourage better understanding between services as reforms take place in health and policing.
  • The importance of implementing all the proposed reforms together in full. Implementing these reforms as a whole will give professionals the scope and skills they require to better protect children.

 

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