Transition period to replace LSCBs to start in May

A 15-month transition period to replace outgoing local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) with new arrangements is set to get under way in May, it has emerged.

On the back of recommendations made in Sir Alan Wood's 2016 review of LSCBs, the current system is set to be scrapped and replaced with a new way of investigating child deaths.

The Department for Education has been planning for a 15-month transition period, but until now there was no detail on when this would begin.

But a newly-published DfE document outlining approved timetables for key reforms within the department reveals new regulations will be put in place by May 2018, with local authorities being required to have their new arrangements in place by September 2019.

Legislation to reform multi-agency safeguarding arrangements formed part of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which sets out the new safeguarding duties.

However, the legislation is yet to be formally enacted. Once the legislation is triggered, the requirement for councils to have LSCBs will be replaced with a requirement on three partners - local authorities, the police and the health service - to make arrangements for working together on child protection in a local area.

Under the DfE's plans, safeguarding partners will have up to 12 months to agree the arrangements for themselves, and any other relevant agencies they consider appropriate, to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area.

Following publication of local arrangements, safeguarding partners will have up to three months to implement the changes. Once the arrangements have been published and implemented, the LSCB for the local area will cease to exist.

The DfE document also reveals that the delayed pilots of mental health assessments for looked-after children, intended to ensure looked-after children have their mental health needs identified and supported, will start in April 2018.

The pilots had been due to launch in up to 10 areas in May 2017 but their launch stalled after Prime Minister Theresa May called last year's snap general election.

The document also confirms that the What Works Centre for Children's Social Care is due to become fully established in April 2020.

The centre was first mooted in 2016 as a means of gathering and sharing evidence about effective practice within children's social care but was only formally launched in October 2017.

The What Works Centre is currently being developed by Nesta's Alliance for Useful Evidence with support from the Social Care Institute for Excellence, FutureGov and Traversum.

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