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|Topic title||Safeguarding children|
|Topic owner||Helen Blackman|
|Topic author(s)||Helene Denness, Sarah Quilty and Sophie Russell|
|Topic quality reviewed||August 2017|
|Topic endorsed by||NCSCB BMG|
|Topic approved by||NCSCB|
|Current version||June 2017|
|Linked JSNA topics|
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. All partners have a duty to safeguard children and young people who are at risk of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. Abuse can be physical, sexual and/or emotional. Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. Exploitation includes child sexual exploitation (CSE), trafficking and/or modern slavery.
There are two key principles which underpin the safeguarding of children:
National and local policy, guidance and reports are summarised in appendix 1.
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 their staff 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 this collaboration.
In Nottingham, any professional, member of the public or employee with concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to local authority Children’s and Families Direct. Professionals should take responsibility to escalate their concerns through their line manager where they remain concerned about a child’s welfare.
Nottingham’s Family Support Strategy (2016-2017) has three principles:
For more information see Nottingham City Council’s Family Support Strategy and Pathway
Nottingham City offers a wide range of support services enabling the needs of most children and young people to be met within universal services which can be accessed by all children and young people (i.e. there is no threshold). Where it is evident that a child’s needs cannot be met within universal provision an early help and/or family assessment can be completed to decide what support is needed and to ensure that additional support is co‑ordinated to meet the needs of the child or young person. Early help services and advice and guidance are available to all professionals and citizens through Children’s Centres and Children & Families Direct Hub.
The Children and Families Direct Hub encourages contact for all concerns/support requirements for children, young people and families with additional needs to ensure that early help can be provided in a timely manner.
There is a clearly defined process and set of responsibilities to support and guide practitioners when children’s needs move between different levels of support and the Social Care threshold for support as a Child in Need or as a child in need of protection. This is referred to as the Integrated Working and Case Transfer Procedure, see appendix 1, which ensures that workers are confident to work together as the support needs of the child/young person and family as their needs change. Figure 1 identifies levels of support in Nottingham City.
Figure 1: Levels of support in Nottingham City
Nottingham’s model for prevention, early intervention and specialist services, see figure 2, highlights the fact that children and young people may need differing levels of support at different times. We aim to work with families so that their needs can ultimately be met in local universal services wherever possible.
Figure 2: Nottingham’s Model for Prevention and Early Help and Specialist Services
The Priority Families Approach prioritises families with multiple problems though the appointment of a key worker/lead worker for each family who manages the family and their problems and supports them to work towards agreed goals which are shared and jointly owned across local partners.
Nottingham City Council utilises Signs of Safety as its practice framework across all of its Children and Family Services. It is a strengths-based, safety-oriented approach designed to help all the key stakeholders involved with a child, the parents, extended family, community, and agencies to keep a clear focus on assessing and enhancing a child’s needs and safety at all points in Family Support Pathway. The Signs of Safety framework is organised around a rigorous and balanced assessment and planning process that is developed in partnership with children, their families and their communities. This assessment process provides the focus for families, professionals and support networks to work together to develop and implement detailed plans that describe the day-to-day actions everyone will take to ensure and enhance children’s safety, belonging and wellbeing.
Signs of Safety situates the child at the heart of practice and has many tools to aid engagement with children and their families. All of these tools are designed to deepen practice; to make it more collaborative and participatory; to ensure that practice is robust and rigorous; to create action steps and plans that allow children, young people and families to thrive; and to ultimately work more effectively together in seeking to strengthen families and to secure enduring child safety, belonging and wellbeing.
Local Population and Need
The rate of referrals to Children’s Social Care in Nottingham, in 2016, was 882 per 10,000 children and young people, higher than the statistical neighbour average of 701 per 10,000. The rate of referrals has reduced by 90.1 per 10,000 children and young people lower than the statistical neighbour average 99.7 per 10,000.
In Nottingham, in 2016, the rate of children on a child protection plan was 83 per 10,000 children and young people; higher than the statistical neighbour rate of 57 per 10,000. The Nottingham rate of children on a child protection plan need increased by 2 per 10,000 in 2016; in contrast, statistical neighbours saw a decrease of 4 per 10,000 in the same time period.
There were 4,016 referrals to children’s social care in Nottingham in 2016; a reduction of 311 referrals from 2015. In 2016, schools and colleges were the agency responsible for the greatest number of referrals to children’s social care making 20% (823/4016) of all referrals; an increase of 2% from 2015. This is unsurprising given the close contact schools have with children, young people and families and the skills staff have in identifying safeguarding concerns.
In 2016, the police were responsible for 20% (799/4016) of referrals; a slight reduction from 21% (912/4327) of referrals in 2015. This reduction follows the ongoing decline in the proportion of referrals from the police established in 2011.
Conversely, learning disability and mental health staff are among the staff group with the lowest referrals to social care making <1% (23/4016) of referrals in 2016, broadly similar to the rate of referral since 2011. The mechanism underpinning this is unclear, particularly as safeguarding procedures and associated training are well embedded in local specialist services. Local intelligence suggests that staff who have limited contact with children, young people and families are less likely to refer and/or are supporting citizens already receiving support from children’s social care.
Where children and young people may be at risk of harm or may require services a social worker will complete a Children’s Assessment which identifies risks. In 2015/16 in Nottingham 3,885 assessments took place which identified 9,728 risks, actual and potential. It is important to note that many children/young people have risks identified in more than one category and thus the number of risks is greater than the number of children/young people having an assessment.
Risks can be recorded in more than one category. Children/young people who were assessed as having risks identified related to parental mental health problems, domestic violence etc. may have other risks identified such as domestic violence.
51% (1988/3885) of the assessments in Nottingham in 2015/16 identified risks related to domestic violence; lower than the statistical neighbour average of 55%. Domestic violence was the most commonly identified risk in Nottingham in 2015/16 as it was in England in the same time period.
40% (1544/3885) of the assessments in Nottingham in 2015/16 identified risks related to parental mental health problems; higher than the statistical neighbour average of 36%. Mental health problems were the second most commonly identified risk in Nottingham in 2015/16 as it was in England in the same time period. As some mental health problems are very common, whereas others have very low prevalence, recording of mental health problems as a risk does not indicate the severity of the illness.
35% (1367/3885) of the assessments in Nottingham in 2015/16 identified risks related to parental substance use. 19% (735/3885) of risks identified related to drug misuse, matching the England average of 19% but lower than the statistical neighbour average of 21%. 16% (632/3885) of risks related to alcohol misuse, lower than the England average of 18% and the statistical neighbour average of 19%.
The percentage of re‑referrals in Nottingham, in 2016, was 23%; similar to the statistical neighbour rate of 20% with the rate of re-referral decreasing by 3%. The percentage of re‑referrals in Nottingham continues to decrease, suggesting that whilst more children and young people in Nottingham are supported through formal safeguarding procedures than in other local authorities, fewer children are re-referred because children, young people and families receive the right support at the right time.