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3.1 Underlying Policy, Principles and Values


Contents

  1. Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare
  2. Child Protection
  3. Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children
  4. Working in Partnership with Children and Families
  5. Time Scales


1. Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare

Local Authorities have overarching responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children and young people in their area. They have a number of statutory functions under the 1989 and 2004 Children Acts which make this clear, and this guidance sets these out in detail. This includes specific duties in relation to children in need and children suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, regardless of where they are found, under Sections 17 and Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

The Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children’s Services in Local Authorities are the key points of professional and political accountability, with responsibility for the effective delivery of these functions. Whilst Local Authorities play a lead role, safeguarding children and protecting them from harm is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children's health or development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

Local agencies, including the Police and Health Services, also have a duty under section 11 of the Children Act 2004 to ensure that they consider the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when carrying out their functions. Under Section 10 of the same Act, a similar range of agencies are required to cooperate with local authorities to promote the well-being of children in each local authority area (see chapter 1). This cooperation should exist and be effective at all levels of the organisation, from strategic level through to operational delivery. Professionals working in agencies with these duties are responsible for ensuring that they fulfil their role and responsibilities in a manner consistent with the statutory duties of their employer.

This guidance aims to help professionals understand what they need to do, and what they can expect of one another, to safeguard children. It focuses on core legal requirements, making it clear what individuals and organisations should do to keep children safe. In doing so, it seeks to emphasise that effective safeguarding systems are those where:

  • The child’s needs are paramount, and the needs and wishes of each child, be they a baby or infant, or an older child, should be put first, so that every child receives the support they need before a problem escalates;
  • All professionals who come into contact with children and families are alert to their needs and any risks of harm that individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children;
  • All professionals share appropriate information in a timely way and can discuss any concerns about an individual child with colleagues and local authority Children’s Social Care;
  • High quality professionals are able to use their expert judgement to put the child’s needs at the heart of the safeguarding system so that the right solution can be found for each individual child;
  • All professionals contribute to whatever actions are needed to safeguard and promote a child’s welfare and take part in regularly reviewing the outcomes for the child against specific plans and outcomes;
  • LSCBs coordinate the work to safeguard children locally and monitor and challenge the effectiveness of local arrangements;
  • When things go wrong Serious Case Reviews (SCR) are published and transparent about any mistakes which were made so that lessons can be learnt; and
  • Local areas innovate and changes are informed by evidence and examination of the data.

Ultimately, effective safeguarding of children can only be achieved by putting children at the centre of the system, and by every individual and agency playing their full part, working together to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children.


2. Child Protection

Child protection is part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering or at risk of suffering Significant Harm. For more information see Practice Guidance: Significant Harm - The Impact of Abuse and Neglect.

Effective child protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, all agencies and individuals should aim pro-actively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced.


3. Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

Rotherham LSCB and its partner agencies are committed to providing a child-centred and coordinated approach to safeguarding.

Effective safeguarding arrangements are underpinned by two key principles:

  • Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part; and
  • A child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.

Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility

Everyone who works with children – including teachers, GPs, nurses, midwives, health visitors, early year’s professionals, youth workers, Police, Accident and Emergency staff, paediatricians, voluntary and community workers and social workers – has a responsibility for keeping them safe.

No single professional can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances and, if children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.

In order that organisations and practitioners collaborate effectively, it is vital that every individual working with children and families is aware of the role that they have to play and the role of other professionals. In addition, effective safeguarding requires clear local arrangements for collaboration between professionals and agencies.

Any professionals with concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to Rotherham Children’s Social Care – for more information see Referring Safeguarding Concerns about Children Procedure.

Professionals should follow up their concerns if they are not satisfied with the local authority Children’s Social Care response.

A child-centred approach

Effective safeguarding systems are child centred. Failings in safeguarding systems are too often the result of losing sight of the needs and views of the children within them, or placing the interests of adults ahead of the needs of children.

Children are clear what they want from an effective safeguarding system: Children want to be respected, their views to be heard, to have stable relationships with professionals built on trust and to have consistent support provided for their individual needs. This should guide the behaviour of professionals. Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs.

Children have said that they need:

  • 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 on-going 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.

A child-centred approach is supported by:

  • The Children Act 1989. This Act requires local authorities to give due regard to a child’s wishes when determining what services to provide under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, and before making decisions about action to be taken to protect individual children under section 47 of the Children Act 1989. These duties complement requirements relating to the wishes and feelings of children who are, or may be, looked after (section 22(4) Children Act 1989), including those who are provided with accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and children taken into police protection (section 46(3)(d) of that Act);
  • The Equality Act 2010 which puts a responsibility on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. This applies 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; and
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This is an international agreement that protects the rights of children and provides a child-centred framework for the development of services to children. The UK Government ratified the UNCRC in 1991 and, by doing so, recognises children’s rights to expression and receiving information.


4. Working in Partnership with Children and Families

Work in partnership with families must be based on the following principles:

  • Ensure family members know the child's safety and welfare has priority;
  • Learn about the child's religious, cultural, community and familial context;
  • Children and young people should be consulted and kept informed about what is to happen to them;
  • Children's welfare must be safeguarded by prompt, positive and pro-active attention;
  • Treat all family members with dignity and respect and offer a caring and courteous service;
  • Enable all family members to participate in the assessment process, regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation or ability;
  • Minimise infringement of privacy consistent with protecting the child;
  • Be clear about powers and purpose of any intervention;
  • Be aware of the impact on the family of professional actions;
  • Respect confidentiality and pass on information and/or observations about the family only with permission or to protect the child;
  • Listen to and try to understand the concerns, wishes and feelings of the child and family before formulating explanations and plans;
  • Consider strengths, potential and limitations of family members;
  • Ensure all family members know their responsibilities and rights with respect to receipt or refusal of services and its consequences;
  • Use simple jargon-free language appropriate to age and culture of each individual;
  • Be open and honest about concerns and professionals' responsibilities, plans and limitations;
  • Allow individuals time to absorb professional concerns and processes;
  • Distinguish between personal feelings, values, prejudices and beliefs, and professional roles and responsibilities and seek and use supervision to check achievement of this;
  • Always acknowledge errors, failures or oversights and the distress caused to families;
  • Give explicit consideration to the potential conflict between family members;
  • The child should be spoken to alone, if age appropriate.


5. Time Scales

Any timescales referred to in the procedures are the minimum standards required by the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board.

Where the welfare of the child requires it, shorter time-scales must be achieved.

Any extension to the time-scales must be authorised by the relevant manager following consultation with relevant managers from the other agencies.

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