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Lord Laming today called for a step change in leadership and practice to help protect children from harm as he published his report into how children’s services have progressed since 2004.

His far-reaching report, The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report, was commissioned by the Children’s Secretary Ed Balls in November 2008 and looks at Children’s Services across England.

The report recognises that Every Child Matters is the right framework for safeguarding children, but that more must now be done to ensure that it is implemented in practice to provide the best quality care and protection for every child at the front door of each of the key services.

Lord Laming calls on Government to set explicit priorities for the protection of children and young people and reflect these in the targets for each of the key frontline services, and ensure sufficient resources are in place to deliver these priorities.

He goes on to recommend Government establish a powerful National Safeguarding Delivery Unit to inject greater energy and drive into the implementation of change and to support local improvement.

He also recommends:

• A major change in the training and professional development of social workers including a greater focus on practical skills and specialist training at the end of the first year of study;
• Department of Health prioritise recruiting and training more health visitors to support very young children.
• The staffing, training and status of police child protection teams should be addressed by the Home Office; and
• Ministry of Justice take action to reduce the length of time taken to complete court processes in care cases and review the increases in court fees made last year.

Speaking at the publication of his report, Lord Laming said:

“Keeping children safe and promoting their wellbeing is a responsibility of us all, but more needs to be done to inject energy and drive into safeguarding and child protection across all frontline services.

“Throughout this task it has been clear that the vast majority of people working in this area aspire to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people.

“I am convinced that with vision and ambition more can be done. That is why the recommendations I am making today herald the need for step change in expertise and leadership for front line workers, backed up with commitments from Government and other national bodies to drive this change forward.”

Other recommendations include:

• More is done to ensure children and young people get support as early as possible to prevent problems escalating and creating a risk of serious harm;
• A programme of management training for key personnel in all of the main services in order to ensure that these organisations are led by strong, confident and able managers with a clear understanding of their responsibilities towards vulnerable children;
• Steps are taken to ensure that all professionals involved in keeping a child safe share information, assess risk, and make decisions effectively together to keep children safe;
• Systems are put in place to ensure that GPs and Accident and Emergency staff have the right information and training to identify and protect a child they fear may be at risk, especially across organisational boundaries;
• A greater focus on the skills and experience of inspectors who evaluate frontline services which aim to keep children safe; and
• The Serious Case Review process is revised so that it supports swift, effective learning of lessons when a child suffers serious harm, and Ofsted inspect Serious Case Reviews on how well they learn these lessons.

Click here to view the Government's response to Lord Laming’s recommendations.

Editor's Notes

This press notice relates to 'England'
1. The report can be found at: http://publications.everychildmatters.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=HC+330

2. The Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, asked Lord Laming to prepare an urgent report into the progress of arrangements to safeguard children on 17 November 2008. A copy of the letter can be found at Appendix 1 of the report.

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