SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
The Children Act 2004 required each local authority to establish a Safeguarding Children Board. Chapter 3 of Working Together to Safeguarding Children sets out in detail the arrangements for the work of each Local Safeguarding Children Board. This chapter provides a summary only.
- Scope of the Role
- LSCB Chair
- Role of Elected Members and Non-Executive Directors
- Ways of Working
- Annual Business Plan
- LSCB Annual Report
- Monitoring and Inspection
- Local Information
1. Scope of the Role
In order to fulfil its statutory functions, an LSCB should use data and, as a minimum, should:
- Assess the effectiveness of the help being provided to children and families, including early help;
- Assess whether LSCB partners are fulfilling their statutory obligations;
- Quality assure practice, including through joint audits of case files involving practitioners and identifying lessons to be learned; and
- Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of training, including multi-agency training, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The Children's Safeguarding Performance Information Framework provides a mechanism to help do this by setting out some of the questions a LSCB should consider.
The core objectives of the Safeguarding Children Board (SCB) is to coordinate local work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and to ensure the effectiveness of what the member organisations do individually and together.
Specific objectives of the SCB are to:
- Develop and agree inter-agency policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, consistent with Working Together to Safeguard Children, including:
- The action to be taken where there are concerns about a child's safety or welfare, including thresholds for intervention;
- Training of those working with children or in services affecting the safety and welfare of children;
- Recruitment and supervision of persons who work with children;
- Investigation of allegations concerning persons working with children;
- The safety and welfare of privately fostered children;
- Cooperation with neighbouring children's social care services authorities and their Board partners.
- Participate in the planning of services for children in the local authority area;
- Communicate the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child;
- Develop procedures to ensure a coordinated response to unexpected child deaths;
- Monitor the effectiveness of what is done to safeguard and promote the welfare of children - see Section 10, Monitoring and Inspection;
- Undertake appropriate reviews of serious cases and ensure lessons are understood and acted upon;
- Collect and analyse information about child deaths.
Whilst the SCB has a role in coordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of local individuals' and organisations' work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, it is not accountable for their operational work.
Each Board partner retains its own existing lines of accountability for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children by their services.
Whilst the SCB does not have the power to direct other organisations, it does have a role in making clear where improvement is needed.
4. LSCB Chair
In order to provide effective scrutiny, the LSCB should be independent. It should not be subordinate to, nor subsumed within, other local structures.
Every LSCB should have an independent chair who can hold all agencies to account.
It is the responsibility of the Chief Executive (Head of Paid Service) to appoint or remove the LSCB chair with the agreement of a panel including LSCB partners and lay members. The Chief Executive, drawing on other LSCB partners and, where appropriate, the Lead Member will hold the Chair to account for the effective working of the LSCB.
The SCB is made of organisations which will designate particular, named people as their SCB member so that there is a consistency and continuity in membership.
Members will be those with a strategic role in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children within their organisation. They should be able to:
- Speak for their organisation with authority;
- Commit their organisation on policy and practice matters;
- Hold their organisation to account.
As well as the local authority with responsibility for Children and Young People's Services, members of the SCB must include:
5.1 Statutory Members
These are the statutory organisations which are required to co-operate with the local authority in the establishment and operation of the Board and have shared responsibility for the effective discharge of its functions. The Board partners are:
- District Councils in local government areas which have them;
- The Chief Officer of Police for a police area any part of which falls within the area of the local authority;
- The local Probation Board for area, any part of which falls within the area of the LA;
- The Youth Offending Team for an area any part of which falls within the area of the local authority;
- NHS England and Clinical Commissioning Groups for an area any part of which falls within the area of the local authority;
- NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts all or most of whose hospitals or establishments and facilities are situated in the local authority area;
- CAFCASS (Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service);
- The governor or director of any Secure Training Centre in the area of the local authority; and
- The governor or director of any prison in the local authority area which ordinarily detains children.
The Local Authority should ensure that those responsible for adult social services functions are represented on the SCB, because of the importance of adult social care in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Similarly health organisations should ensure that adult health services and in particular adult mental health and adult disability services are represented on the SCB.
5.2 Other Members
The Local Authority should also secure the involvement of other relevant local organisations and the NSPCC where a representative is made available.
In addition, two representatives of the local community should be appointed as full LSCB members (their role is described in Working Together to Safeguarding Children) and the LSCB must also appoint representation from schools. This means taking steps to ensure that the following are represented: the governing body of a maintained school; the proprietor of a non-maintained special school; the proprietor of a city technology college, a city college for the technology of the arts or an Academy; and the governing body of a further education institution the main site of which is situated in the authority's area. Independent schools should also be included as appropriate.
LSCBs should engage with faith groups, children's centres, GPs, independent healthcare organisations, and voluntary and community sector organisations including bodies providing specialist care to children with severe disabilities and complex health needs.
In areas where they have significant local activity, the armed forces (in relation both to the families of Service men and women and those personnel that are under the age of 18), UK Visas and Immigration (formerly UK Border Agency) should also be included.
Where the number or size of similar organisations precludes individual representation on the LSCB, for example in the case of schools or voluntary youth bodies, the Local Authority should seek to involve then through existing networks or forums, or by encouraging and developing suitable networks or forums to facilitate communication between organisations and with the LSCB.
5.3 Involvement of other agencies and groups
Each LSCB should make appropriate arrangements at a strategic management level to involve others in its work as needed. For example, there may be some organisations or individuals which are in theory represented by the statutory Board partners but which need to be engaged because of their particular role in service provision to children and families or role in public protection. There will be other organisations which the LSCB needs to link to, either through inviting them to join the LSCB or through some other mechanism. For example
- The Coronial Service;
- Dental health services;
- Domestic Violence Forums;
- Drug and alcohol misuse services;
- Drug Action Teams;
- Housing, culture and leisure services;
- Housing providers;
- Local Authority legal services;
- Local MAPPA;
- Local sports bodies and services;
- Local Family Justice Council;
- Sexual health services;
- Crown Prosecution Service;
- Witness Support Services;
- Local Criminal Justice Board;
- Other health providers such as pharmacists;
- Representatives of service users.
Each LSCB will also need to draw on the work of key national organisations and liaise with them when necessary for example Child Exploitation and On-Line Protection Centre.
The LSCB should either include on its Board, or be able to draw on appropriate expertise and advice from, frontline professionals from all the relevant sectors. This includes a designated doctor and nurse, the Director of Public Health, Principal Child and Family Social Worker and the voluntary and community sector.
5.4 The Role of Members
The individual members of the NSCB have a duty as members to contribute to the effective work of the NSCB, for example, in making the NSCB assessment of performance as objective as possible, and in recommending or deciding upon the necessary steps to put right any problems. This should take precedence, if necessary, over their role as a representative of their organisation. Members of each LSCB should have a clear written statement of their roles and responsibilities.
6. Role of Elected Members and Non-Executive Directors
Local authority elected members and non-executive directors of other LSCB partners should not be members of a NSCB. Their role, through their membership of governance bodies such as the cabinet of the local authority or a scrutiny committee or a governance board, is to hold their organisation and its officers to account for their contribution to the effective functioning of the NSCB.
The Lead Member for Children's Services within the local authority will have a particular focus on how the local authority is fulfilling its responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and will hold the Director of Children's Services to account for the work of the NSCB.The Lead Member for Children should be a participating observer of the NSCB. In practice this means routinely attending meetings as an observer and receiving all its written reports.
7. Ways of Working
The working practices of NSCB members will be considered locally with a view to securing effective operation of the NSCB functions and ensuring all member organisations are effectively engaged.
It may be appropriate for the NSCB to set up working groups or sub-groups, on a short-term or a standing basis to:
- Carry out specific tasks, for example: maintaining and updating procedures;
- Provide specialist advice, for example: in respect of working with specific ethnic and cultural groups, or with disabled children and/or parents;
- Bring together representatives of a sector to discuss relevant issues and to provide a contribution from that sector to SCB work, for example: schools, the voluntary and community sector, faith groups; and
- Focus on defined geographical areas within the SCB boundaries;
- As a 'core group' or 'executive group' of SCB members, to undertake some day-to-day business by local agreement.
Each LSCB in the Consortium will establish local arrangements for working groups or sub-groups the details of which will be available on their respective websites.
All groups which are established by the NSCB should work to agreed terms of reference, with explicit lines of reporting, communication and accountability to the NSCB. This may take the form of a written constitution detailing a job description for all members and service level agreements between the LSCB, agencies and other partnerships. Chairs of sub-groups should be NSCB members.
Each LSCB should consider how to put in place arrangements to ascertain views of parents and carers and the wishes and feelings of children (including children who might not ordinary be heard) about the priorities and effectiveness of local safeguarding work, including issues of access to services and contact points for children to safeguard and promote welfare. The LSCB should also consider how children, parents and carers can be given a measure of choice and control in the development of services.
8. Annual Business Plan
The NSCB will produce an annual business plan setting out:
- A work programme for the following year to include measurable objectives;
- Relevant management information of child protection activity in the previous year;
- Progress against objectives established for the year ending.
9. NSCB Annual Report
The Chair must publish an annual report on the effectiveness of child safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the local area (this is a statutory requirement under section 14A of the Children Act 2004). The annual report should be published in relation to the preceding financial year and should fit with local agencies' planning, commissioning and budget cycles. The report should be submitted to the Chief Executive, Leader of the Council, the local police and crime commissioner and the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board.
The report should provide a rigorous and transparent assessment of the performance and effectiveness of local services. It should identify areas of weakness, the causes of those weaknesses and the action being taken to address them as well as other proposals for action. The report should include lessons from reviews undertaken within the reporting period.
The report should also list the contributions made to the NSCB by partner agencies and details of what the NSCB has spent, including on Child Death Reviews, Serious Case Reviews and other specific expenditure such as learning events or training.
10. Monitoring and Inspection
The NSCB's work to ensure the effectiveness of work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children by member organisations will be a peer review process, based on self-evaluation, performance indicators and a joint audit. Its aim is to promote high standards of safeguarding work and to foster a culture of continuous improvement. It will also identify and act on identified weaknesses in services.
Where it is found that a Board partner is not performing effectively in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and the NSCB is not convinced that any planned action to improve performance will be adequate, the NSCB chair or a member or employee designated by the chair should explain these concerns to those individuals and organisations that need to be aware of the failing and may be able to take action.
As part of the monitoring and evaluation function of the NSCB, there is a requirement for the NSCB to ensure appropriate links with any secure setting in the area and be able to scrutinise restraint techniques, the polices and protocols which surround the use of restraint, and incidences and injuries. LSCB's with a secure establishment(s) in its areas should report annually to the Youth Justice Board on how effectively the establishment(s) is managing use of restraint, the reports should be provided more frequently if there are concerns on the use of restraint. Consideration should be given to sharing the information with relevant inspectorates (HMIP and Ofsted. Where appropriate, members of the NSCB (with secure establishments in its area) should be given demonstrations in the techniques accredited for use to assist their consideration of any child protection or safeguarding issue that might arise in relation to restraint.
All incidents when restraint is used in custodial settings and in which results in an injury to a young person should be notified to, and subsequent action monitored, by the LSCB.
Individual services will be assessed through their own quality regimes. Annual performance assessment of council children's services (APA), by OFSTED, looks at the contribution of local authorities to outcomes for children, with an overall judgement supported by separate judgements on social care services for children and on education services. It draws on performance information, inspection evidence, other documents and self assessment. These inspectorates in their other work, plus other inspectorates such as the Healthcare Commission, and Her Majesty's Inspectorates of Constabulary, Prisons, and Probation, will have as part of their remit considering the effectiveness of their agencies' role in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. The LSCB should draw on their work.
The NSCB will be able to feed its views about the quality of work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children into these processes.
The effectiveness of the NSCB itself should also form part of the judgement of the Inspectorates. This may be done, for example, by examining the quality of the NSCB's planning and determining whether key objectives have been met. It will be for the Local Authority to lead in taking action, if intervention in the NSCB's own processes is necessary.