Make child protection 'less tick-box'

Published on Tuesday, 01 February 2011 09:59
Posted by Scott Buckler

Child protection should be less about red tape, targets and form-filling and more about looking after the child, an official report saysProfessor Eileen Munro says bureaucracy is preventing social workers from doing the job they have trained for. And she stresses the importance of having a range of services based in the community to help keep children safe.


She was asked to review England's child protection system by the government. In her interim report, Prof Munro says regulations, inspections and procedures have thrown the system out of balance.

She says: "Too often questions are asked if rules and procedures have been met but not whether this has helped children.

"Everyone in the profession can think of meetings and forms that don't actually make a child safer."Whilst some regulation is needed, we need to reduce it to a small, manageable size."

There was an increase in the amount of form-filling required of social workers in the wake of the Lord Laming's report into the tragic death of Victoria Climbie.

Some say the unintended consequences of this was that too much time is spent completing forms and meeting targets, and not enough with children and their families.

Prof Munro also says that too much time is being spent preparing for inspections and meeting the requirements of Ofsted inspectors.

She adds: "Professionals should be spending more time with children, asking how they feel, whether they understand why the social worker is involved in their family, and finding out what they want to happen."

Having a formal time scale for form-filling can distract the social worker from making the right decision, she says.

"We now have more knowledge about the kind of parenting that really harms children.

"Assessments should be skilled enough to distinguish between the families most in need and the parents who are struggling and just need a bit of help, possibly not from social workers," she adds.

She also stressed the need for closer working in multi-disciplinary teams in the community

In some areas this could mean social workers sitting next to police officers or it may just mean creating clearer lines of contact.

Source: ©BBC News

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