ADCS brands plans to reduce child protection guidance 'detrimental'

By Joe Lepper

| 30 August 2012

The Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) has warned that government plans to reduce child protection guidance could be "detrimental" to professionals' ability to safeguard children.

ADCS president Debbie Jones warned in June that the reduction to guidance may have gone 'too far'. Image: Alex Deverill

The government is currently consulting on proposals to replace 700 pages of guidance – including the Working Together to Safeguard Children document – into just 68 pages.

In its official response to the consultation on the plans, ADCS warned that the new guidance “presents a significant and detrimental shift in tone” and moves away from “a narrative of safeguarding as everybody’s business to a focus on social workers and local authorities with support from other agencies.”

Meanwhile, the stripped-back guidance “does not give sufficient information on safeguarding roles and responsibilities in the health system” and does too little to highlight how the charity, social enterprise and private sectors should safeguard children, ADCS said.

The ADCS conceded that the current guidance is “too long, complex and wordy” but backed its status as a “single source document for all who work to safeguard, protect and promote the wellbeing of children and young people”.

The slimmed-down guidance will be spread across three documents: Working Together to Safeguard Children; the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families; and a third covering serious case reviews.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “There is nothing more important than protecting vulnerable children. We want to see a better balance between professional judgement and central prescription.

"That’s why we want to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy to free up professionals to give the right help to all vulnerable young people.
 We are consulting on our proposed reforms, and will carefully consider all responses before any final decisions are made.”

The British Association of Social Workers and Unison Concerns have also raised concerns about the plans. They argue that the proposed changes will do little to address the funding cuts and high caseloads that are blighting social workers.

The consultation ends on September 4.

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