The Department for Education has published an updated version of Working Together to Safeguard Children (March 2015). The latest guidance updates the previous version published in 2013, outlining how organisations and individuals should work together and how practitioners should conduct the assessment of children.
Although not a major review, there are some important areas that have changed.
The three main changes are:
The referral of allegations against those who work with children
Working Together to Safeguard Children no longer refers to Local Authority Designated Officers (LADOs). Instead it says that local authorities should have a designated officer or team who manage and oversee allegations. For the first time, the 2015 guidance makes it clear that all new appointments are to be qualified social workers, unless they have previous experience of the role.
Notifiable incidents involving the care of a child
Local authorities had reportedly been left confused over when they should notify child abuse or neglect incidents to Ofsted and the relevant LSCB(s). This latest update now includes a section on what is considered a notifiable incident.
A notifiable incident is one involving the care of a child in which either:
– a child has died (including cases of suspected suicide), and abuse or neglect is known or suspected;
– a child has been seriously harmed and abuse or neglect is known or suspected;
– a looked after child has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected); or
– a child in a regulated setting or service has died (including cases where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected).
The definition of serious harm for the purposes of Serious Case Reviews
Following concerns raised on serious case reviews, it has been suggested that the right decisions on when to commission a serious case review were not always being taken. Working Together 2015 now includes a definition of serious harm.
Seriously harmed includes, but is not limited to, cases where the child has sustained, as a result of abuse or neglect, any or all of the following:
– a potentially life-threatening injury;
– serious and/or likely long-term impairment of physical or mental health or physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.
The guidance also makes it clear that serious harm can still have occurred if a child recovers from the incident and states that LSCBs should ensure their decisions on whether serious harm has occurred are informed by available evidence.
Child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and radicalisation
Other amendments include the specification that LSCBs, local authorities and their partners should be commissioning and providing services for children at risk of sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and radicalisation.