24th January 2015

A new framework unveiled this month really brings to the fore the belief of those working in the social care sector that the only way working practices can improve is by watching out for the first signs of problems.

The new system will hinge on the collection of real time data – not just because we have become very good at collecting it and collating – but because if used correctly it will hopefully go some way to stamping out a lot of neglect by really taking the time to listen and observe and promptly react to the behaviour of the people who are its subjects – children and vulnerable adults.

It’s no secret that local authorities have in recent years come under huge scrutiny when delivering what they hope is the correct and most sympathetic way to safeguard our society’s most vulnerable.

In the hope of combatting this The Athena Programme was first set up to provide a voice and an outlet for those who care for children in these situations.  We discovered that with the correct amount of training and the re-education of ‘how’ we listen and react to who we care for, our care crises could well be avoided or at least lessened by early intervention.

Our focus has been very much on listening to what colleagues in other authorities have to say and no matter what decisions are made the voice of the child or vulnerable adult must be heard.

The ‘children’s safeguarding and performance information framework’, whose first version has just been published (January 16) describes the main nationally collected data that can help those involved in child protection, at both local and national levels, understand the health of the child protection system.

It goes on to encourage recommended questions that can be put to the children, families, professionals and providers at a local level in the hope that early detection eliminates prolonged abuse.

It’s quite succinct in its approach and breaks the framework down into five themes, while at the same time attempting to bridge the local and national divide:

  1. Outcomes for children and young people and their families
  2. Child protection activity to include early help
  3. The quality and timeliness of decision making
  4. The quality of child protection plans
  5. Workforce

When asked for her views on the new framework Sarah says:

“I think it is very useful to have a revised framework.  However it should not stifle practice. It should be seen as a platform for capturing best practice and enabling better outcomes. The child’s voice must always be heard.”

The main message to come out of the new framework is that fundamentally the onus is on the person dealing closely with the child and its family. Decisions by committee no longer take precedence but rather the data collected from those discussions.

It needs to be set against the local involvement because, let’s face it, how many events could potentially have been avoided or, if observed early enough, could have quickly been nipped in the bud?

A great many of life’s decisions are based on good advice or a ‘quick word’ from someone we trust. We owe it to children and vulnerable adults to make that connection of trust so the right timely decision is always made.

This framework sets out the nationally and locally collected data that will help local authorities assess the performance of their child protection and safeguarding services.

Local authorities, including:

  • local agencies
  • local safeguarding children boards
  • health and wellbeing boards

Can use the data to:

  • compare the performance of their safeguarding services against other local authorities’
  • identify which services need improving the most