When it comes to safeguarding

When it comes to safeguarding, children are best protected when professionals and organisations know what is required of them and how they can work together. In fact, partnership working in the context of safeguarding indicates the cooperation between agencies and professionals and the joining up of all services to a central point to ensure the beneficial outcome for every individual child. This means that everyone who works with children and young people has a responsibility for keeping them safe: this involves identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action. Partnership working provides coordination and a pool of expertise, information and resources, as well as opportunities for learning and cultural change that encourage preventive and problem-solving approaches.
In fact, several internal and external professionals are involved in safeguarding children and have a different area of expertise relevant to the individual. It is of extremely important that all these agencies communicate and interact in the interests of the child. Thus, the child and their families/carers must also be heard, and their interests must be considered when securing the safeguarding for the child.
The quality of all partnership relations determines the quality of the service provided to children and their families as well as the outcomes realised. The implication is that successful inter-organisational partnerships are not automatic or spontaneous; they need to be forged and supported at all levels by people committed to realising the benefits of collaborative working.
Unfortunately, the importance of partnership in the context of safeguarding came from professionals failing to protect Victoria Climbie who died in 2000. Her death indeed could have been prevented because doctors, police and social workers all came into contact with her and had concerns. However, the doctors who treated Climbie discharged her to her abusers and admitted they assumed the social services would investigate. Unfortunately, Victoria’s social worker were incompetent and felt unsupported by her supervisors who were disorganised and confused. The police too failed to fully investigate Victoria’s home (apparently for fear of catching scabies) although other family members and Victoria’s child-minder raised their concerns. Following this case, many lessons were learnt, and recommendations were put into place to prevent another similar tragedy.
Partnership working means each professional, whether it’s the police, NHS, education’s departments, NSPCC, psychologists or social workers, if they have concerns to raise in relation to safeguarding and welfare child protection, they should work with the other agencies in contact with that child. Each of these professionals may have just one concern; however, by working in partnership and sharing information the bigger picture evolves.
The Team Around the Child (TAC) brings together the different agencies into one meeting where there are concerns about a child or a family identified within a Common Assessment Framework (CAF). The CAF ensures the sharing of information and communication in order to identify areas where parents or children might need a bit of extra support. During the meeting, a written “Action Plan” will be agreed between everyone; this plan should clarify each team member’s responsibilities. For example, the Health visitor will make a referral to Speech Therapy by X date.
The TAC brings together relevant practitioners with the family to address the child or young person’s unmet needs. Parents and carers are equal members of the team. The TAC decides who will be the Lead Professional (LP) to coordinate the action plan. The nominated Lead Professional should act as the single point of contact for the child and his/her family coordinating the actions of other professionals in the team and the review of the CAF action plan.
Partnership in working has very well-known benefits and although the philosophy of cooperation is deeply rooted in the contemporary work policy, in the context of child protection and safeguarding, there is much to learn in developing and fostering multi-agency collaborations for the well-being of children and young people.