Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Munro Review on Child Protection reports

Professor Eileen Munro has issued her final report on Child Protection. - (pdf - large file) and also see the Munro Review of Child Protection on the Department for Education website.  The report makes 15 recommendations which, Professor Munro claims, will help "shift the child protection system from being over-bureaucratised and concerned with compliance to one that keeps a focus on whether children are being effectively helped and protected."  The government have stated that they will work closely with a group of professionals from across the children’s sector to develop a full response to Professor Munro ’s recommendations later this year.  Professor Munro speaks about her report here.   For earlier posts on this review see Law and Lawyers 10th June 2010 and 11th February 2011.

In March 2011 the Norgrove Review on Family Justice issued an interim report - (pdf - large file).   Discussion of the report may be seen at Family Law Week.

Interestingly, many of the reviews commissioned by the coalition government in its first flush of enthusiasm are now reporting and making significant recommendations.  It remains to be seen whether these recommendations will be translated into practice and, if so, how it will be done in this difficult economic climate.  For example, The Guardian 10th May wondered whether much of the Munro Review will be implemented in the light of cuts to the budgets of local authority social services departments.   Of course, any reduction in bureaucracy is to be welcomed but the fact will remain that reports from social services will be required for the purposes of care proceedings in the family courts.  Once such proceedings are commenced, social workers have to spend considerable time preparing such reports and attending court.

The Munro Review - summary of recommendations:

  • Remove the statutory requirement on local authorities to complete social care assessments within "artificial set timescales"
  • Free services that work with children and families from unhelpful government targets, national IT systems and nationally prescribed ways of working
  • Change the approach to conducting serious case reviews (SCRs), learning from the approach taken in sectors such as aviation and healthcare
  • Introduce a duty on all local services to co-ordinate an "early offer" of help to families who do not meet the criteria for social care, to address problems before they escalate
  • Require local authorities to protect the discrete roles and responsibilities of director of children’s services and lead member for children’s services
  • Reform Ofsted inspections so they follow the child’s "journey" through services, add more weight to feedback from children and families and examine how all local services, including health, education, police and the justice system contribute to the protection of children
  • Keep experienced social workers on the frontline even when they become managers so that their experience and skills are not lost
  • Designate a principal child and family social worker in each local authority to report the views and experiences of the frontline. At national level, a chief social worker would be established to advise government on social work practice
  • Revise the statutory Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance and the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families
  • Require employers and higher education institutions to work together so that social work students are prepared for the challenges of child protection work
Addendum 11th May:  For a further look at Professor Munro's report see "No quick fixes for child protection system" - UK Human Rights blog 11th May.

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