The key to better child protectionBy Victoria Smith
February 15, 2012
Frontline social workers striving to protect vulnerable children in Bracknell Forest have been asked for their views on how they can be helped in their vital work.
Ofsted has published a new report using views from social workers at 14 local authorities, including Bracknell Forest, highlighting how good support helps them to protect children better.
The report examines what are the key factors in effectively supporting frontline social workers in child protection, and what link can be demonstrated between better support for staff and better protection for children.
It is based on survey inspections of 14 local authorities, discussions with 245 front-line social workers and managers, and more than 500 responses from social workers to questionnaires.
Inspectors looked in depth at the experiences of 38 children, including meeting some of those children and their parents. There are examples of effective approaches to supporting social workers which, in turn, made a difference to children’s lives.
John Goldup, deputy chief inspector at Ofsted, said: “Social workers do an incredibly difficult job, often in very stressful circumstances.
“I hope this report will provide valuable insight into the best ways of supporting these front line staff in their roles as they work to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable children.”
The report highlights how in Bracknell Forest a multi-agency risk management forum was set up to address the risks and needs of a relatively small number of mostly older children who were vulnerable due to their risk-taking behaviour.
These young people were typically on the edge of going into care as the support provided to their parents to help manage their child’s behaviour had limited or no impact on preventing them from being at risk.
The forum involved managers from social care, police, health, youth offending and education services.
The panel would identify the severity of risk, take responsibility to manage the risk and coordinate a plan that would address the underlying causes to minimise the potential harm.
The objective of the panel was to maintain these young people safely within their communities and to improve their resilience.
The report found that effective support for frontline staff contributes to better outcomes for children. Children became safer, healthier, less anxious, happier and more effectively supported by their wider families which, as a consequence, enabled them to achieve more at school.
The effects of good support also resulted in front-line staff feeling less worried and more confident about the risks they were managing which helped them to be more focused, clear sighted and assertive.