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1.2 Underlying Policy, Principles and Values

RELEVANT NATIONAL GUIDANCE

"Assessing Need and Providing Help" Chapter 1 of Working Together to Safeguard Children.


Contents

Caption: contents table
   
  Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare
  Child Protection
  Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children
  Working in Partnership with Children and Families
  Timescales
  Case Recording


Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare

  1. Throughout this Manual, safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:
    • Protecting children from maltreatment;
    • Preventing impairment of children's mental and physical health or development;
    • Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
    • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

And undertaking that role so as to enable those children to have optimum life chances and to enter adulthood successfully.


Child Protection

  1. 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 likely to suffer Significant Harm.
  2. 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.


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

  1. The Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) encompasses all managers, employees, practitioners, volunteers, carers, independent contractors and service providers in each area, and advocates practice which is:

Child-Centred

A child centred approach is supported by:

  1. The Children Act 1989 (as amended by Section 53 of the Children Act 2004). 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);
  2. 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
  3. 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. The child should be seen (alone when appropriate) by the Lead Social Worker in addition to all other practitioners who have a responsibility for the child's welfare. Their welfare should be kept sharply in focus in all work with the child and family. The significance of seeing and observing the child cannot be overstated. The child should be spoken and listened to, and their wishes and feelings ascertained, taken into account (having regard to their age and understanding) and recorded when making decisions about the provision of services. Some of the worst failures of the system have occurred when practitioners have lost sight of the child and concentrated instead on their relationship with the adults.

Rooted in Child Development

  1. Those working with children should have a detailed understanding of child development and how the quality of the care they are receiving can have an impact on their health and development. They should recognise that as children grow, they continue to develop their skills and abilities. Each stage, from infancy through middle years to adolescence, lays the foundation for more complex development. Plans and interventions to safeguard and promote the child's welfare should be based on a clear assessment of the child's developmental progress and the difficulties the child may be experiencing. Planned action should also be timely and appropriate for the child's age and stage of development.

Focused on Outcomes for Children

  1. When working directly with a child, any plan developed for the child and their family or care giver should be based on an assessment of the child's developmental needs and the parents/caregivers' capacity to respond to these needs within their family and environmental context. This plan should set out the planned outcomes for each child, progress against these should be regularly reviewed and the actual outcomes should be recorded.
  2. The purpose of all interventions should be to achieve the best possible outcomes for each child recognising each is unique. These outcomes should contribute to the key outcomes set out for all children set out in the Children Act 2004:
    • Stay safe;
    • Be healthy;
    • Enjoy and achieve;
    • Make a positive contribution;
    • Achieve economic wellbeing.
  3. To achieve this, children need to feel loved and valued and be supported by a network of reliable and affectionate relationships.

Holistic in Approach

  1. Having an holistic approach means having an understanding of a child within the context of the child's family (parents or caregivers and the wider family) and of the educational setting, community, faith, social and culture in which they are growing up. The interaction between the developmental needs of children, the capacities of parents or care givers to respond appropriately to those needs and the impact of wider family and environmental factors on children and on parenting capacity requires careful exploration during an assessment.
  2. The ultimate aim is to understand the child's developmental needs and the capacity of the parents or caregivers to meet them and to provide appropriate services to the child and to the family which respond to those needs. The analysis of the child's situation will inform planning and action in order to secure the best outcomes for the child, and will inform the subsequent review of the effectiveness of actions taken and services provided. The child's context will be even more complex when they are living away from home and looked after by adults who do not have parental responsibility for them.

Ensuring Equality of Opportunity

  1. Equality of opportunity means that all children have the opportunity to achieve the best possible developmental outcomes, regardless of their gender, ability, race, ethnicity, faith, social circumstances or age. Some vulnerable children may have been particularly disadvantaged in their access to important opportunities and their health and educational needs will require particular attention in order to optimise their current welfare as well as their long-term outcomes into adulthood.

Involving of Children and Families

  1. The Voice of the Child - 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.
  2. In the process of finding out what is happening to a child it is important to listen to the child, develop a therapeutic relationship with the child and through this gain an understanding of their wishes and feelings. The importance of developing a co-operative working relationship is emphasised, so that parents or care givers feel respected and informed, they believe practitioners are being open and honest with them, and in turn they are confident about providing vital information about their child, themselves and their circumstances. The consent of children, young people and their parents or care givers, where appropriate, should be obtained when sharing information unless to do so would place the child at risk of harm. Similarly, decisions should also be made with their agreement, whenever possible, unless to do so would place the child at risk of harm. See also Information Sharing Procedure.

Building on Strengths as well as Identifying Difficulties

  1. Identifying both strengths (including resilience and protective factors) and difficulties (including vulnerabilities and risk factors) within the child, his or her family and the context in which they are living is important, as is considering how these factors are having an impact on the child's health and development. Too often it has been found that a deficit model of working with families predominates in practice, and ignores crucial areas of success and effectiveness within the family on which to base interventions. Working with a child or family's strengths becomes an important part of a plan to resolve difficulties.

Integrated in Approach

  1. Safeguarding is a shared responsibility. From birth, there will be a variety of different agencies and services in the community involved with children and their development, particularly in relation to their health and education. Multi and inter-agency work to safeguard and promote children's welfare starts as soon as it has been identified that the child or the family members have additional needs requiring support/services beyond universal services, not just when there are questions about possible harm.
  2. Effective measures to safeguard children are those which also promote their welfare. They should not be seen in isolation from the wider range of support and services already provided and available to meet the needs of children and families.

A Continuing Process not an Event

  1. Understanding what is happening to a vulnerable child within the context of his or her family and the local community, and taking appropriate action are continuing and interactive processes and not single events. Assessment should continue throughout a period of intervention, and intervention may start at the beginning of an assessment.

Providing and Reviewing Services

  1. Action and services should be provided according to the identified needs of the child and family in parallel with assessment where necessary. It is not necessary to await completion of the assessment process. Immediate and practical needs should be addressed alongside more complex and longer term ones. The impact of service provision on a child's developmental progress should be reviewed at regular intervals.
  2. In addition to individual practitioners shaping support around the needs of individual children, local agencies need to have a clear understanding of the collective needs of children locally when commissioning effective services. As part of that process, the Director of Public Health England should ensure that the needs of vulnerable children are a key part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment that is developed by the Health and Well-being board. The Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) should use this assessment to help them understand the prevalence of abuse and neglect in their area, which in turn will help shape services.

Informed by Evidence

  1. Effective practice with children and families requires sound professional judgements which are underpinned by a rigorous evidence base, and draw on the practitioner's knowledge and experience. Decisions based on these judgements should be kept under review, and take full account of any new information obtained during the course of work with the child and family.


Working in Partnership with Children and Families

  1. Work in partnership with families must be based on the following principles:
    • 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 / gender identity, sexual orientation or ability;
    • Ensure family members know the child's safety and welfare has priority;
    • 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;
    • Learn about the child's religious, cultural, community and familial context;
    • 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 and the possible need for children or adults to speak without other family members present;
    • 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.


Timescales

  1. Any timescales referred to in the procedures are the minimum standards required by the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP).
  2. Where the welfare of the child requires it, shorter time-scales must be achieved.
  3. Any extension to the time-scales must be authorised by the relevant manager following consultation with relevant managers from the other agencies.


Case Recording

  1. The following is intended to ensure the security of children's case records and the integrity of the information they contain.
  2. Good quality case recording is essential in ensuring:
    • An accurate record of part of or all of the child's life is available;
    • Continuity of service to children and families when staff are unavailable or change, or when a service resumes after a period of time;
    • Effective risk management practices to safeguard the well-being of children, especially in emergency situations;
    • Effective partnerships and effective information sharing between staff, children, their families, their carers, other agencies and service providers;
    • Clarity of information for everyone involved in the planning and delivery of services, and in the event of investigations, inquiries, or audits;
    • Adequate information for staff and managers to ensure the best possible utilisation of available resources;
    • As a means by which to ensure accountability and adherence to procedures and statutory responsibilities.

Records Must Be Kept On All Individual Children and Family Members

  1. Records may be in the form of paper files and/or computer records; audio or video recordings may also be kept. Separate case/file records must be made for each child.
  2. All case records must be organised in order to safeguard the contents, protect the confidentiality of the individuals concerned, and make them as easy as possible to use.
  3. Information held in electronic records must accurately reflect the corresponding information recorded within paper files.
  4. Records held on paper may extend to more than one volume. Where more than one volume exists, the dates covered by each volume must be clearly recorded on the front cover.
  5. Where information is held on a paper file, the electronic record must be used to identify the source and location of the paper record.

Forms Must be Completed in Accordance with Instructions

  1. Forms must be completed in all fields as indicated by the agency's instructions and signed and dated.

Children and their families must be Informed about their Records

  1. Children and their families should be told what types of information/data is contained in their case records.
  2. In particular, they should be helped to understand what data is collected on them, how it is used, who it might be shared with and how long it will be kept for.

The Practitioner Primarily Involved should Complete the Record

  1. The practitioner primarily involved, i.e. the person who directly observes or witnesses the event that is being recorded or who has participated in the meeting/conversation, should complete the record.
  2. Where this is not possible and records are completed or updated by other people, it must be clear from the record which person provided the information being recorded. Preferably the person with firsthand knowledge should read and sign the record as well as stating their post title. There must be clear differentiation between opinion and fact.
  3. Records of decisions must show who has made the decision and the reasons for which it has been made.

All Relevant Information must be Recorded

  1. Every case file or electronic record must be completed with information about the individual's full name, address, date of birth, ethnicity, religion, any reference or identification number, any risk assessment, a transfer/closing summary (where appropriate) and, in the case of paper files, volume number.

Recording of Names

  1. Care should be taken to ensure consistent recording of an individual’s details. This ensures that all information remains retrievable. Where possible a unique identifier, for example NHS number, should always be used in order to ensure that records are not lost or attributed to the wrong individual.
  2. Prior to birth children should be recorded as Unborn [mother’s surname], where possible also recording the mother’s NHS number and estimated date of delivery as the date of birth. Following birth the child’s registered name and the NHS number should then be recorded. Parents are required to register their child’s name within 42 days of their birth.
  3. Where there is any doubt as to an individual’s name or identity, efforts should be made to view their birth certificate and this name should be used thereafter. Where electronic systems have the capacity all known aliases should be recorded.

Children and Families should be Involved in the Recording Process

  1. Children (depending on their age and understanding) and their families must be routinely involved in the process of gathering and recording information about them. They should feel they are part of the recording process.
  2. They should be asked to provide information, express their own views and wishes, and contribute to assessments, reports and to the formulation of plans in respect of services they may receive. In particular, they should be helped to understand what data is collected on them, how it is used, who it might be shared with and how long it will be kept for.
  3. Children and their parents must be asked to give their agreement to the sharing of information about them with others. Information should be shared with the consent of the child and family if appropriate and where possible the wishes of those who do not wish confidential information to be shared should be respected. Information can still be shared without consent if it is in the public interest to do so. Information sharing decisions should be based on consideration or the safety and well-being of the person and others who may be affected by the sharing. In such circumstances ensure that the information shared is necessary for the purpose for which it is being shared and shared only with those who need to have it.

Records Must be Legible, Signed and Dated

  1. Those completing computerised records must show their name, post title and the time and date when the recording was completed. The sequence of the recording must also be noted.
  2. Paper records should be typed or handwritten and all records must be signed, dated and the persons post title stated.
  3. Any handwritten records must be legible.
  4. It must be possible to distinguish the name and post title or status of the person completing the record. If there is any doubt of the identity of the writer from a signature, the name should be printed.

Timescales for Recording

  1. Records should be completed at the same time or as soon as practicable after the event occurs and should be updated as information becomes available or as decisions or actions are taken.
  2. Where records are made or updated late or after the event, the fact must be stated in the record, and the date and time of the entry should be included.
  3. All agencies must adhere to their own agency recording policy and procedures.

Records Must be Written Clearly using Plain Language and Prejudice must be Avoided

  1. Records must be written clearly and concisely, using plain language, and in a way that recognises the right of the child or their parent/carer, should there be access to the record (whether whilst the case is active or at some point in the future).
  2. Entries to case records should be written in a way which is sensitive to differences of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and lifestyles.
  3. Use of technical or professional terms, acronyms and abbreviations must be kept to a minimum; and if there is likely to be any doubt of their meaning, they must be defined or explained.

Records Must be Accurate and Adequate

  1. Care must be taken to ensure that information contained in records is relevant and accurate and is sufficient to meet legislative responsibilities and the requirements of these procedures.
  2. Every effort must be made to ensure records are factually correct.
  3. Records must distinguish clearly between facts, opinions, assessments, judgments and decisions.
  4. Records must also distinguish between first hand information and information obtained from third parties.

Managers Must Oversee and Monitor all Records

  1. The overall responsibility for ensuring all records are maintained appropriately rests with managers with day-to-day responsibility, delegated to other staff as appropriate.
  2. The manager should routinely audit records to ensure they are up to date and maintained as required and, if not, that deficiencies are rectified as soon as practicable.
  3. All management recommendations, decisions and actions must also be recorded and regularly reviewed.

Records Should be Kept Securely

  1. All records held on children must be kept securely. Children's paper files should normally be stored in a locked cabinet, or a similar manner, usually in an office which only staff have access to. These records should not be left unattended when not in their normal location.
  2. All electronic records must be kept securely and comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018. This will include arrangements such as:
    • Password protection;
    • Automatic log out of screens;
    • Logging off computers;
    • Changing passwords on a regular basis.
  3. Where staff are working in an ‘agile’ / ‘mobile’ / ‘hot-desking’ context, care must be exercised to ensure that records or computers are not left on or overlooked by others.

Removal of Records

  1. 68. Records should not normally be taken from the location where they are usually kept. If it is necessary to remove a record from its normal location, a manager should approve this and should stipulate or agree how long it is necessary to remove the record. The manager must also be satisfied that adequate measures are in place to ensure the security of the record(s) whilst they are removed. For example, records must never be left in unattended vehicles.
  2. Care must be taken so that records on laptops, memory sticks or other mobile storage devices are removed only in accordance with each agency's procedures.
  3. The authorisation for any record to be removed must be recorded and those who may need to see the records should be informed of their removal. The manager must then ensure the record is returned as required/agreed.
  4. Should the situation ever occur where a file / documents are lost or mislaid, the local authority officer must report this immediately to their manager and every reasonable effort should be made to obtain their recovery. The service user should be advised of such an event.

Record Retention after Closure

  1. Files should be retained for the period set out in each agencies own record retention policy.
  2. In all agencies the relevant policies relating to retention and destruction apply and any member of staff responsible for a child's records when services end and the case is closed, is responsible for ensuring that the records to be retained are in good order and that unnecessary items have been removed, for example, compliment slips, duplicate copies etc.

Important Note: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse requires all institutions to retain their records relating to the care of children for the duration of the Inquiry under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005. There is therefore an obligation to preserve records for the Inquiry for as long as is necessary.

(See Letter to Chief Executives of Local Authorities).

End