On 25th February 2000 at 3.15pm, Victoria Climbie was declared dead. A post-mortem examination carried out by Dr. Nathaniel Carey concluded she had died of hypothermia caused by malnourishment as a result of a damp environment and restricted movement.
Lord Laming was approached by the Secretary of State for Health and the Secretary of State for the Home Department to carry out three statutory inquiries following Victoria’s death. The combination of these inquiries resulted in the Victoria Climbie Inquiry.
In this report, he found the communication between Local Authorities, Police and Social Workers to be lacking. As a result, he made a series of recommendations and the order in which they would be implemented.
By creating a hierarchy, (fig1), each Body or Committee had a specific function or role. Lord Laming determined that in the event of a serious case, an established and clear chain of command would ensure accountability and or support at the highest level. In this case, the buck would stop at the recommended ministerial Children and Families Board established with the Prime Minister’s support.
These main bodies and their subsidiaries would also be responsible for scrutinizing and implementing new legislation; and reporting back in the order laid out. The main focus of these recommendations was prevention rather than cure; by identifying children at risk at the earliest opportunity and ultimately ensuring their safety. This would be done by:-
Simplifying the existing Working Together and the National Assessment Framework documents into one document that could be readily understood across the board.
Getting rid of bureaucracy so that it became easier to identify ‘who was responsible for what’ more easily.
Improving the lines of communication and sharing of information.
Retraining of frontline staff.
Clarifying the common law rules on confidentiality.
Social Care Recommendations:
Following his inquiry, Lord Laming recommended a complete restructure on how a vulnerable child’s case would be handled from its initiation to its completion. He recognized in order to protect the children; better standards and clear guidelines would have to be established for everyone concerned to follow.
Some of his key suggestions called for:-
Procedures on how to carry out an initial report: He concluded where English was not the child’s first language, and interpreter would be made available.
Training: Experienced staff with appropriate training would be assigned to the children and their families.
Recording of data: Once a child has been identified as being vulnerable, all data regarding this child not limiting doctor’s reports; must be collated, recorded and shared with the proper authorities immediately.
Accountability: Directors, Managers and Team leaders must establish a system that records:- Who made the authorities first aware of the child’s predicament, who is dealing with the case, when the case was assigned, who referred the case to another agency or local authority and the actions being taken throughout the duration of the case. It is the duty of the Manager to ensure that every social worker is clear on what role they are expected to play in any particular case, and they understood what was expected of them. It would also be made clear that their actions would come under supervision and reviewed periodically. This would ensure everyone concerned was on the same page.
Referrals: Each agency would have to cooperate with each other when sharing their information. If more than one agency was involved in a child’s case, the initial agency should be responsible for informing the latter agency all the particulars of the case in writing.
Legal Advice: In the event where emergency measures had to be taken, Lord Laming recommended that legal advice had to be taken within a 24 hour period. This would ensue that all aspects of the law were being complied with.
Between the health, police and social services, it emerged that there were many missed opportunities which had they been spotted, could have saved Victoria’s life. As a result, Lord Laming suggested a complete revamp in the way cases were recorded from the ground up. Most notably, he recommended that:-
Where a case of child abuse is suspected, a nursing care plan must be drawn up incorporating a full doctor’s report.
Once a child has been identified as vulnerable, the examining doctor must decide whether to interrogate the child directly without the consent of his primary carers or get the child’s history from his primary carers. The doctor must then note down his actions and or decisions taken in writing.
The Philosopher George Santayana (1905) once said “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. This unfortunately, appeared to be the case when Lord Laming was once again commissioned to write another report following the death of Baby Peter  . In this report he was asked to identify the barriers that prevented the safeguarding of children following his first inquiry.
What has become increasingly clear is that despite the initial inquiry, it appears no real lessons have been learnt. On June 7th 2010, Channel 4  screened an undercover documentary on the life of a typical social worker. Among the concerns that old and newly qualified social workers expressed; a lack of communication between authorities and the bureaucracy that ensued stood out. Although one could argue the sample used in that particular documentary could not possibly reflect the UK as a whole; it is still a worrying and real concern that needs to be nationally addressed to safeguard these vulnerable children.
TAQ 2: (ASSESSMENT CRITERIA 2.2)
WHAT DOES A CHILDREN’S TRUST DO? DESCRIBE THEIR ESSENTIAL FEATURES AND PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS.
The Children’s Plan was set up by the Government to ensure every child regardless of age, sex, religion, economic background; could lead a safe, happy and healthy life. This is in turn would make it possible for these children to turn into well adjusted adults, capable of making positive contributions in their communities. In order to make this plan work, The Children’s Trust, made up of local partnerships, was given the responsibility to see out this vision and make it a reality.
The role of the Children’s Trust
One of their primary roles is to bring together local organisations that deal with the services of children, young adults and families together; to continually improve services rendered or deal with problems affecting these groups of people. Together with primary care trusts, police authorities, youth offending teams, health authorities, schools, local probation boards and youth offending teams; the Children’s Trust bring these organisations together and require them to join The Trust bound by a legal duty of care.
The Children’s Trust:-
Identifies children at risk with an aim to prevent any harm by intervening at the earliest stage possible.
Try to reduce child poverty
Actively engage with their target groups by listening to their views on what affects them in their day to day lives in order to provide services that would make a real difference to these children.
Ensure proper plans are laid out to provide effective services to their target groups. This includes total accountability in services provided and public spending.
Making sure every child has a well rounded education which will enable have them to be on a more or less on equal footing with wealthy children when they finally join the job market.
Tries to break the barriers that prevent children from sharing and using information. The Children’s Trust also ensures that proper communication and sharing of information exists between all Local Authorities dealing with children.
The following organisations work closely together with the Children’s Trust to achieve the welfare of children, young adults and families. It should be noted they have a legal duty of care when providing their respective services and as a whole, as members of the Children’s Trust, work together for the overall well being of their target groups.
Primary Care Trusts (PCT): PCT together with Local Authorities and other agencies that provide health and social care locally, ensure the needs of the community are met as a whole.
Local Safeguarding Children’s Trusts: In order to promote the safety and well being of children, young adults and families, they work together with local authorities that deal with crime and disorder, Youth Offending Teams and schools to reduce crime and risk the rate of reoffending. They teach consequences at an early age in order to prevent, as much as possible, antisocial behaviour.
Education: Schools, families and local authorities work together to achieve high educational standards and promote extracurricular activities to unlock talents in children. By working together, they try to ensure a child will enter into adulthood as a well adjusted and productive member of society.
Local Area Agreement (LAA). The Children’s Trust works closely with the public, private and voluntary sectors to ensure their overall vision is met.
TAQ3: (ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3.1, 3.2)
DEFINE THE TERM ‘CHILDREN IN NEED’ IN A SOCIAL WORK CONTEXT
LIST THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT AND GIVE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Any child who needs extra care or attention from local authorities because:- they cannot achieve a reasonable standard of health, are significantly impaired, are disabled and are at risk from the people who surround or care for them are classified as ‘Children in Need’.
The Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004 require that Local Authorities who provide services for children and young people (under 18 years old) to:
Identify those who are unable to reasonably attain or maintain health and or development without the provision of services by local authorities
Provide health services to those who are like to suffer further or future complication without the provision of services by the local authorities
Provide services for disable children (Children Act 1989, section 17).
Different Types of Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse can manifest itself in many forms. Some forms of abuse are easier to spot than others and anybody working with children must be trained to spot and intervene at the earliest opportunity. Commons examples of child abuse include:-
Physical abuse: This where a child is physically harmed by those in charge of his primary care (parents or guardians) or anybody who comes into contact with the child. This includes things like beating a child, pushing him/her into objects that can cause physical harm or restricting their movements so they cannot seek safety. Any deliberate action that leaves bruises, internal injuries, breaks, cuts and or scars is considered physical abuse.
Sexual Abuse: Any form of sexual activity for example incest, rape, paedophilia; with a child is considered sexual abuse.
Mental abuse: This covers a broad spectrum. Some of the major causes of mental abuse include:-
Environment: Children who have alcoholic, violent and or drug addicted parents/guardians; or are exposed to such people in their communities, may suffer mentally as a result. The children’s future poor choices could be in part, as a result of the environment then grew up in.
Unsupportive Families: Families who fail to support the children, by either encouraging them to do well or teaching them good values; constantly degrading or putting down their children; ignoring their children needs and wants; are in fact mentally abusing these children
TAQ4: (ASSESSMENT CRITERION 3.3)
OUTLINE THE STEPS INVOLVED IN THE INITIAL ASSESSMENT. PLEASE NOTE IF YOU HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING ALL LINKS YOU WILL HAVE INFORMATION ON THIS
When a child in need has been identified or referred to the Local Authority, an initial assessment to determine what that need is, what kind of services will be required to help the child and most importantly if the child is safe in his or her current situation; is carried out. The steps involved in carrying out such an assessment are:-
The initial assessment should be completed with a maximum period of 7 working days from the date of the first referral.
The needs of the child in need should be identified
The safety, health and well being of the child should be safeguarded from harm.
Information from the child’s primary carers (parents or guardians), the extended family, all Local Authorities who had contact with the child (in relation to the case however remote), and any records held about the child (both current and old); should be collated and recorded to form part of the initial assessment.
Using the Children Act 1989 section 17 as a guideline:-
define if the child is in need
If there is sufficient or supporting evidence or likelihood the child is suffering or will suffer.
The focus of the initial assessment should solely focus on the welfare of the child, therefore, any analysis and recommendations should be made clear with no room for ambiguity.
TAQ5: (ASSESSMENT CRETRIA 2.2)
FIND OUT WHAT THE NORFOLK PROTOCOL GUIDELNES ARE AND DESCRIBE IN YOUR OWN WORDS USING PARAGRAPHS AT LEAST 10 ACTIVITIES ACCORDING TO THE PROTOCOL
The Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) exist to protect and promote the welfare of children and young adults. The LSCBs replaced the Area Child Protection Committees which were concerned with child protection as opposed to safeguarding a child. The Protocol therefore provide guidelines which Local Authorities and families can work together to provide better support for children and young adults. Some of the activities undertaken in accordance with the Norfolk Protocol are:-
Help or support for disabled parents to look after their children in all aspects of the child’s life: Parents who suffer from physical or learning disabilities require different forms of help when looking after their children. They may not be physically able to feed, dress or a carry their child and need to be supported in this. A learning disability may also affect a parent’s inability to assess correctly the needs of a child on a day to day basis. Local Authorities in accordance to the Protocol make an initial assessment of the household and help accordingly.
Safeguarding children from violence and neglect: Children who come from backgrounds where violence exists, are at risk of becoming victims of their circumstances or growing up and becoming violent themselves. In order to safeguard against this, the LSCB identify such risks and take steps to remove the child from such environments and place them in a safe and stable place.
Safeguard the children and young adults when accessing services or activities in the community: Any cultural or recreational activities aimed at children should make sure the children benefit from these activities in a safe manner. The custodians in charge of the activities should have an Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. They should also be properly trained to make sure the children carry out their activities as safely as possible.
Safeguard the children and young adults from discrimination or attacks from people because of their race, religion or physical ability: This means wherever a child is being targeted because of their individuality or has a physical or learning disability, the LSCB should step in and either; educate and or prosecute individuals or groups causing harm to the children.
Safeguard children from sexual predators: Those who have been identified and prosecuted as sex offenders; should go on the Sex Offenders Register and banned from having working with children. The LSCB work closely together with other Local Authorities and help identify children at risk in such situations and remove them from harm or potential harm.
Missing Children: The LSCB recognize children go missing from their home or foster placement for a variety of reasons. By sensitively approaching this issue, the LSCB work together with families, to find out the circumstances relating to the child’s disappearance and if found, what can be done to prevent such an occurrence. Once a child goes missing, relevant authorities pool together to make sure the child comes home safely. They may try to reach out to the child using the media or putting up posters with information on how the child can contact the authorities safely.
Shared information: This is perhaps the greatest tool at the LSCB’s disposal in their work to safeguard children. There are many Local Authorities and voluntary organisations who deal with the well being of children and a lot of information is inevitably located in different locations. By setting up an electronic database, different organisations are able to not only have access to this information, but also are able to update and add vital details pertaining to the child in need. Anybody who has access, or adds to such information, should be held accountable in accordance to the procedures of their respective organisations.
Safeguarding the children from bullying: By adopting a zero tolerance policy against bullying (in schools or the community), the LSCB also educates children and adults alike, how to recognize and prevent bullying.
A legal duty of care to children and young adults who: have been given custodial sentences, are placed in children homes, or in training centres. They must make sure these children are safeguarded while they in such institutions, from themselves or indeed others. They must identify signs of suicide, self harming, mental health problems, continued drug use etc, and prevent, teach or curb such behaviour while the children or young adults are in their care.
Unauthorised Encampments: In a bid to tackle the growing problem of illegal camping by Travellers, the Norfolk Protocol for Unauthorised Encampments was adopted in January 2003. The aim of this liaison was to form a workable plan that was acceptable to both Travellers and the communities they occupy. By cooperating with the Local Authorities, the Travellers would not only have a forum to air their grievances, but also could raise their public profile.
TAQ6: (ASSESSMENT CRETRIA 4.1, 4.2)
DEFINE WHAT IS MEANT BY ADOPTION AND FOSTERING
IDENTIFY AND EVALUATE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROVISION AVAILABLE FOR LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN.
Adoption is a process where a child is provided for with a new family and whom for a variety of reasons, cannot be raised by their own biological parents. There is a legal process that needs to be followed where the ‘new parents’ have to take all parental responsibility to the adopted child as they would their own biological child if they have any.
Fostering on the hand usually refers to a temporary arrangement made to accommodate a child who is waiting to be adopted. The primary caregiver (in this case it could be a foster parent or a foster home) assumes responsibility for the child together with a local authority and where applicable, the child’s biological parents.
Identify and Evaluate Different Type of Provisions Available for Looked After Children
Educational Provisions: Children in need who are experiencing hardships in their education in addition to any existing difficulties have to be especially cared for. In order to properly assess the child’s individual needs, Local Authorities in partnerships with others, have to carry out assessments to determine what is best for the child. The growing needs of the child are also taken into account. This is necessary because as the child gets older, the authorities concerned will need to have their initial assessments reviewed to reflect the current status of the child. By correctly assessing and meeting a child’s educational needs, it is likely the child will not stand out in mainstream society or be a target for negative actions.
Fostering Provisions: The Children Act 1989 sec 22G requires Local authorities to make sure that those entrusted with caring for children meet the standards set and have passed all the checks required. This is important as it minimizes risks as much as possible with a view to ultimately ensuring the child’s safety in care.
Contact Provisions: Children who are placed in temporary care may have access to their biological parents depending on the nature of their placement. In order to safeguard the interest of these vulnerable children, parents sometimes have to agree to supervised visits. As much as this may be seen as an intrusion by the biological families, it is necessary to have a social worker for example; to be visibly present to prevent further harm to the child, or help build relations between child and his/her family. Changes in the law have also being reviewed to further facilitate this process. In April 1st 2010, the new Government passed a law saying that the participants’ incomes would not be a factor to contact activity
TAQ 7: (ASSESSEMENT CREITERION 4.3)
USING VALID AND RELIABLE SOURCES INVESTIGATE AND DISCSS THE ISSUES SUROUNDING ‘HARD TO PLACE’ CHILDREN AND SUGGEST A POSSIBLE INERGRATED SERVICE PROVISION CARE PLAN.
A child is considered ‘hard to place’ when it becomes difficult for him/her to be permanently adopted by a family. The reasons vary from child to child but the most common reasons are:-
Physical (prospective parents find the child is too old)
Emotional or social problems
More often than not, prospective adoptive parents already have this ‘image’ of a perfect little child and may not be ready to accept a child who has some difficulties. This is usually the hardest barrier when placing children. If a child is lucky enough to be adopted, but displays some challenging behaviour during the trial period, the adoptive parents have the right to return the child if they feel they cannot cope. This sadly creates more problems to the child or may have already started life feeling rejected. The term ‘hard to place’ is not only restricted to children in foster care. The same can be applied to children who cannot find it hard to stay in school because of the type of behaviour they display.
In order to increase the odds of have these children successfully placed in a family or an educational facility, a good care plan is essential to make this happen. Where possible, a successful care plan needs to have the input of the parents, extended family or previous schools. Monck (Monck and others 2003 p42) explores this further when he defined a plan of what to do in the interim, where there was an expectation the child would be returned to his birth parents or permanent guardians after a complete investigation. He defined “Concurrent planning as the capacity of the birth parents or wider birth family to parent the child is investigated. At the same time the child is placed with foster carers who, if the birth family cannot parent, become the adopters”. In his definition, when a child could not be returned to his natural parents, he made a provision on what would finally happen to that child.
The following components constitute a good care plan.
Specific: All care plans for hard to place children, need to be as individual as the child itself. The problems surrounding the child may have a generalised description, but the effects to the child itself have to be tailored to fit the child. ‘Child A’ could be said to be angry and displays this anger by hitting other children. The same could be said of any child because children tend to lash out as they are yet to learn tools of how to deal with their emotions. The care plan would then have to delve into the root cause of the child’s anger before making provision or recommendation on how to best help the child.
Measurable: It is counterproductive to have the child receive the same type of help when no noticeable improvement can be recorded. Instead, if after an acceptable period of time the child continues to exhibit the same type of challenging behaviour, a new therapy or establishment should be tried. In order to avoid duplication of treatments, Local Authorities have to communicate and work together in a bid to help the child.
Relevant: The care plan should fit the child needs as he or she is now. This means if an assessment was carried when the child was 4 years old, another has to be carried as he/she continues to get older. Factors such as puberty need to be taken into account as they could increase or amplify the behavioural problems exhibited by the child.
Focused: The care plan would have to have direction. Needless time wasting therapies, assessments or treatments can be avoided simply by having a focussed care plan. This is where the real decisions are made concerning the child in question even though these decisions have to be revised periodically. The same could be said when there are no more resources available at that present time to cater to the child. The only thing that can be done in such cases is to keep the child safe, healthy and as happy as possible.
TAQ8 (ASSESSEMENT CRETERION 1.1)
USING THE TIMELINE AS A BASIS FOR YOUR WORK, DEVELOP IT FURTHER TO FULL OUTLINE THE DEVELOPMENT OF MEASURES WITHIN THE UK TO ENSURE THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.
The Children and Adoption Act 2006 made provisions for people who worked or had contact with children mainly in a professional capacity or for families who posed a risk to children. The aim of this act was to minimize potential risks to children.
The UK Borders Act 2007 (code of practice on children) defines how children should be treated when making sure they comply with the UK immigration laws. It states for example, any child under 16 years old should have an adult present before fingerprints can be taken.
The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 Chapter 23 defines the way in which social work services are delivered to children and young person.
Part 1 Sections 1-10 detail what is expected from any organisation/Local Authority delivering these types of services.
Part 2 deals with the Functions in Relation to Children and Young Persons. This includes dealing with issues to do with the children’s well-being, accommodation, independent reviewing officers, visitation, education and training, finance, care breaks, enforcement of care standards, emergency protection orders and information and research.
Part 3 of this act defines what is required for adopting and fostering services.
Part 4 elaborates more on the Orders under Part 2 of the 1989 Act. This simply details what criteria each organisation or Local Authority should meet before and after a child is placed in care.
Part 5 deals with the minor and supplementary amendments to the 1989 Act.
The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (c 22) provides a framework for which 16-18 year olds could qualify for an apprenticeship. Its aim is to ensure that children in schools receive full information about apprenticeships and vocational training opportunities.
The Children, Schools and Families Act 2010 (c 26) deals with the provision that should made for children with special educational needs. Part 1 of this act details how educational facilities have to be inspected to meet the Government’s criteria for this group of children.
TAQ 9 THE ROLE OF THE SOCIAL WORKER AND OF THE COURTS IN IMPLEMENTING THE PROVISIONS OF RELEVANT RECENT LEGISLATION IS VITAL IF CHILDREN ARE TO BE ADEQUATELY PROTECTED WITHIN THE UK. DISCUSS
The role of the social worker has never been more challenging at an age where horrific cases of child abuse have become commonplace. These stories no longer make headlines in the media and more worryingly, are the cases that do not make the front pages which are equally as ghastly. The social worker is also faced with a lot of opposition in the work place from uncooperative parents/guardians who openly scorn them and think they want to destroy their family unit or tell them how to run their lives. The courts on the other hand are overwhelmed with the sheer number of child abuse cases they have to deal with. By the end of 2009 alone, 51,488 sex offences against children were recorded by the Home Office. Both the social workers and the court system are often under immense pressure to resolve these cases quickly because time is usually of the essence to ensure the safety of the child. In addition, a host of red tape and bureaucracy cause the wheels of justice to run slowly, which often result in many delays which could put the child in further danger. One of the most important measures that has been put in place; largely because of the case of Victoria Climbe, was a clear line of communication and accountability for all the authorities/agencies who deal with children in need. Lord Lemming clearly identified that a lack of communication and ultimately accountability between different agencies could have contributed to the death of Victoria Climbe, once she was initially identified as a child in need. However, lessons were not learnt as in the case of Baby Peter; which resulted in further recommendations by Lord Laming. This was what resulted in the Children Act 2004. It is worth noting that the Children Act 1989 is still upheld and the 2004 Act does not supplant it. The social workers on the other hand were under pressure and overwhelmed by the number of caseloads they had to mine through and some of these workers felt their perspectives had changed from safeguarding children to meeting targets.
In order to fully appreciate and understand the roles both the social worker and the courts play in implementing the provisions of legislation for the child’s protection, it is important to first define who is considered a ‘child in need’. Councils in the UK have several indicators which they use to identify and prioritize help for a child in need (CIN). These are based on several factors surrounding the child’s life such as disability, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, sex abuse to mention a few. Regardless of how each council operates, they are all governed by the Children’s Act of 1989 and 2004. Using these Acts as a template, a ‘child in need’ can be loosely defined as anybody under the age of 18 years, who requires some form of intervention, to safeguard them from external factors that prevent them from enjoying a healthy and well-adjusted life. As a result, the Government in conjunction with Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Care Quality Commission; form a Safeguarding Review to update their policies on safeguarding children which occurs every three years. These reviews aim to streamline how local authorities identify and deal with children in n