Local scrutiny arrangements for children’s services are under the spotlight

Posted on 22/01/2018 by Tim Gilling.

Local scrutiny arrangements for children’s services are under the spotlight following the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The Act sets out provisions which will:

  • Replace Local Safeguarding Children Boards with new flexible local safeguarding arrangements led by three safeguarding partners (local authorities, chief officers of police, and clinical commissioning groups), and place a duty on those partners to make arrangements to work together and with any relevant agencies for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their area;
  • Require safeguarding partners to identify and arrange for the review of serious child safeguarding cases which they think raise issues of importance in relation to their area;
  • Provide for the establishment of a national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. The Panel will commission and publish reviews of serious child safeguarding cases which it thinks raise issues that are complex or of national importance;
  • Give clinical commissioning groups and local authorities joint responsibility for child death reviews, and enable a wider geographical footprint for these partnerships in order for them to gain a better understanding of the causes of child deaths.

A government consultation about changes to the statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and new regulations recently closed and the government’s response to submissions is awaited.

We know that where serious weaknesses or failures in children’s services have occurred, later enquiry has often highlighted a deficit of effective governance and scrutiny. Effective governance and scrutiny are vital to the quality assurance of children’s services, the management of risk and achieving the best outcomes for children.

We think that councils that embrace and value scrutiny are at much lower risk of allowing poor practice and performance to persist. When things go wrong, apart from the devastating effect on people’s lives, councils also risk serious loss of public trust and lasting reputational damage.

Better skilled and supported scrutiny, that provides rigorous challenge and oversight, can help councils to learn, change and improve. How effective is scrutiny of your council’s children’s services?

Consultancy support from CfGS can help in the following ways:

  • demonstrate effective governance and scrutiny ahead of an inspection
  • develop better governance and scrutiny that can support improvement plans after an ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ rating
  • sustain the principles of good governance and scrutiny to avoid coasting or complacency
  • improve knowledge and skills through ‘in house’ training modules about child safeguarding and corporate parenting
  • peer review of new approaches to local safeguarding partners to ensure effective governance and scrutiny

To find out how CfGS support could help you, contact Ian Parry

About the Author: Tim Gilling

Tim is a Director at the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny, leads on health and social care and oversees our work in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.