Safeguarding: Council developments

Kerry Martin, Richard White, Mary Atkinson

30 September 2011

Executive summary

In the light of recent independent reviews of safeguarding and child protection (Laming and Munro), the Local Government (LG) Group commissioned NFER to capture Local Authority (LA) approaches to developing safeguarding practices in a changing policy landscape.

Telephone interviews were conducted with a small number of senior officers (tiers 1-3) in five LAs. Interviewees were asked to provide feedback on what they perceived to be key developments in safeguarding practices in their LA during the last two years (post Laming). This report provides localised accounts of practice implementation and, where possible, evidence of outcomes.

Key Findings

  • The main priority areas for improving safeguarding included: leadership and management; recruiting, maintaining and retaining a highly competent workforce; quality assurance and performance management; referral and assessment processes and procedures; and partnership working.
  • Specific conditions and factors influenced the improvement of safeguarding practices including: the commitment of local authority leaders; the facilitating approach of strategic and operational managers; existing structures underpinning partnership working; workforce attitudes and characteristics; and specific local authority contexts and circumstances.
  • A small number of barriers and challenges to improving safeguarding were identified, these centred on: process and systemic challenges, challenges to partnership working and external local contexts and circumstances.
  • Good and emerging practice was evident despite current difficult economic times and system-level challenges. The local authorities involved had or were developing the necessary structures, systems and effective working cultures to support continued reform of child protection.
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