New drive to improve children’s safety in Brighton & Hove
A fresh drive to encourage all residents who come into contact with children including teachers, youth workers and ‘early years’ professionals has been launched to protect the city’s 50,000 children from harm.
Called Safeguarding is Everyone’s Responsibility, the annual report from the Brighton & Hove Local Safeguarding Children Board makes clear that it’s setting local agencies charged with children’s safety their biggest challenges yet.
A key plank of this is through a Quality Assurance Framework so that organisations set themselves high standards to create a ‘culture of safeguarding’. Key activities to do this include staff surveys and interviews, focus groups, staff evaluations of partnership working and ‘walking the floor’ as well as observation of frontline practice by senior managers.
The Board is also addressing growing concern over Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and as part of this hosted two seminars in May this year that were attended by 90 professionals in the City. The sessions launched an FGM Resource Pack, which contained information and guidance for people who may encounter women or girls at risk of, or having undergone, FGM.
Serious case reviews (SCRs), which take place after a child dies or is seriously injured and abuse or neglect is thought to be involved, are being used to bolster local learning and practice.
Of the 48 SCRs published nationally, several have been examined with more than 100 local professionals taking part.
The key themes that have emerged included disguised compliance by parents, failure to properly obtain & consider the child’s view as well as injuries/bruises to babies under 6 months to be viewed as suspicious.
Other areas included the importance of involving partners or fathers in assessments, understanding Domestic Violence and Abuse is always a Child Protection issue as well as the need for good quality, challenging supervision.
Commenting on the ‘Learning from Serious Case Reviews: Implications for Practice’ seminars, Downs Park School deputy head
Clare Langhorne said:
“The SCR sessions were extremely useful in several ways; they helped to demonstrate the importance of multi-agency working and how lives can be enhanced or indeed saved by good communication, they reminded us that we are ALL responsible for every child's welfare both in and out of school, they helped sharpen and focus our knowledge of safeguarding, they enabled voices from different agencies to be heard and join in discussion.
“My learning has been embedded into school practice through incorporating regular safeguarding up-dates reminders being included in staff meetings, increased working with families and improvement in sharing information with other agencies.
“The sessions are so useful and should be a regular feature for safeguarding leads to help us refocus and challenge our practice. It is too easy to become complacent!”
Violence against Women and Girls Strategy Manager & Commissioner James Rowlands, who also attended sessions, said:
“This was a really informative session that achieved in sharing the key learning from the reviews and helped me identify, and think about, implications for my own practice.”
Brighton & Hove LSCB independent chair Graham Bartlett said his first year in post had seen an ‘incredible amount of work’ go into improving to meet new challenges and develop an improvement culture. However, he warns against the dangers of complacency and recognises the need to continually strive to do things better to protect children
“Whether you are a professional, a parent, a volunteer or none of those we all have a responsibility to ensure that our children have the best start in life, growing up happy, healthy and safe.
”The job of the LSCB is to ensure that the efforts of those agencies and groups who have contact with children work singly and collectively to ensure that children are helped, supported and protected. We have gone through a fundamental change in the way we do that. For example we have identified new priorities, set by board members.
“We have refreshed our training programme and linked it with our new multi-agency audits and the outcomes of case reviews both locally and nationally. Our data and management information is being developed to allow us to see not just what was done but what difference it made.
“One of the real strengths of the Board is the willingness of agencies to challenge and be challenged.”
For more info on the LSCB visit the website