- Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children - first report to Parliament -

Children's Secretary Ed Balls has today confirmed that Local Safeguarding Children Boards will in future be required to produce clear and comprehensive executive summaries of Serious Case Reviews and set out in their annual reports what actions have been taken following SCRs.

These requirements, made explicit in a template setting out a recommended format for SCR executive summaries, will build on the action which Government has already taken to further strengthen SCRs. The revised Working Together guidance also builds on responses from experts in child protection such as the NSPCC and Barnado's.

Ministers are also announcing today that funding to support social work improvement in adult and children's services for 2010 -11 will be more than £200m.

A new 'Local Social Work Improvement Fund' of £23m will provide flexible funds to help reduce pressure on front line social workers. There will also be a grant of £15m to continue to improve IT systems in local areas. Local Authorities will be expected to consult with social workers and local partners to decide how to use the additional money.

Examples of how the money might be used are:

- Specialist teams to ensure that referrals are responded to quickly and appropriately so that all children get the support they need.
- Increase the time that social workers in the hardest pressed teams can spend with children and families
- New roles to keep experienced staff on the front line
- Support 'grow your own schemes' to make the most of local talent and increase the number of social workers in the future.
- Improve assessments and use of early intervention support to meet children's needs.

Last month Ed Balls wrote to the NSPCC and committed to going further to improve the quality of SCR executive summaries. The revised Chapter 8 of Working Together to Safeguard Children published today requires LSCBs to make sure that Executive summaries for SCRs accurately reflect the full overview report and include:

- information about the review process
- key issues arising from the case
- the recommendations and the
- action plan.

The Government will also invest up to an additional £10m to enable Cafcass to tackle backlogs through more efficient working practices. It will enable the service to meet the needs of children in care proceedings and ensure that their best interests remain at the heart of court proceedings.

The Government is also publishing today, the Chief Advisor for the Safety of Children, Sir Roger Singleton's first report to Parliament. Alongside this we will be publishing The Government's response to Lord Laming - One Year On.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said:

"A great deal has been achieved over the past year. Over 50,000 people have responded to our social work recruitment campaign, this is really encouraging for the future of social work. It's a really tough job but I'm pleased people can see the difference they can make.

"Today's new funding and reform package will help to relieve pressure on front line social workers. It demonstrates our commitment to this important profession, whose contribution to society is often undervalued.

"Children need high quality social workers, with the back-up and support to keep going in their demanding jobs. Today's new funding and reform package will help to relieve pressure on the front line and let social workers spend more time with children and families.

"Today's revised guidance Working Together sets out some important changes, such as the need for fuller and thorough Serious Case Review executive summaries. SCRs are critically important to learning lessons so they're not repeated. Getting them right, and taking clear follow-up action, is vital.

"The professionals working in this area are highly committed and I'm confident they will continue to face the challenges and deliver success stories, just like they do now, everyday. With the help of experts such as Sir Roger Singleton and his invaluable insight we can shape and strengthen child protection well into the future."

The Government also warmly welcomes today the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children Sir Roger Singleton's first independent report to Parliament.

In his report Sir Roger identifies funding as an area of concern. This is due to the rise in demand for children's social care putting further pressure on front line services. Today's additional funding announcement is the first step in responding to this concern and to the rising pressure on local areas - particularly the hardest pressed children's services.

Sir Roger Singleton highlighted five other issues in his report, which the Government is already working with him to address over the coming year:

- Learning lessons (from SCRs)
- Performance management
- Inspection and development
- Policy development by Government
- Local accountability & professional relationships

Sir Roger Singleton said:

"A lot has happened in the past year to implement Lord Laming's recommendations. But there is more to be done. The excellent work being done by many professionals who protect thousands of children each year is not yet universal. Going forward we need to focus on securing adequate resources, learning from serious case reviews, improving professional practice and working more closely with all the relevant parties to keep children safe. These responsibilities cannot be parked at any one door - we all need to step up to the plate."

It will put in place:

- an independent College of Social Work which takes responsibility for high standards of practice, promotes a strong culture of professional development and establishes a powerful voice for the profession
- a career framework for social workers which encourages excellent social workers to stay in front line practice. This will be reflected in pay arrangements, underpinned by clear understanding of what should be expected of social workers at each stage in their education and career
- a reviewed initial education curriculum and an assessed first year in employment for new social workers. This will focus on recruiting the most suitable potential entrants to the profession and a commitment to their development
- standards for employers which ensure that social workers have manageable workloads and high quality supervision. This includes developing a culture of continuing professional development which is supported by employers and higher education institutions. It will ensure that social workers have the skills and support they need to practice safely and effectively
- Eventually a shift to a 'licence to practise' model of regulation which can ensure that the highest standards of practice are maintained by members of the profession and supported by their employers.
In March 2009 Lord Laming published his report, 'The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report,' since then a great deal has been achieved, including the Social Work Transformation Programme and new revised statutory guidance, Working Together. One year on key achievements include:

- Over 50,000 people have registered to become social workers in response to the Government's national recruitment campaigns.
- The Action on Health visiting programme has raised the profile of this profession and introduced requirements to monitor their numbers and case loads
- A new child protection delivery plan has been commissioned which will set out recommendations for future improvements to police capability and practice

Lord Laming said:

"Keeping children safe is everyone's responsibility, and I am delighted that so much has been achieved in the past year. There are challenging times ahead and new demands are resulting in more pressure on professionals working in this tough field of work.

"Government has put in place robust policy, legislation and guidance and firm foundations are in place. But more needs to be done to ensure that what's on the page translates into effective, consistent practice. I am pleased to see that the Government has strengthened Working Together and I welcome the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit's focus on providing practical support and challenge, working with the sector.

One year on from my report, I am in no doubt about the widespread commitment to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people. There is good practice around the country but we all need to continue to work with utter determination to make good practice standard practice everywhere.

"I am convinced that with vision and ambition more can be done."

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"The police, social services, schools, the NHS and the government have a crucial role to play in keeping vulnerable children safe.

"Since last year's report we have been working closely with all our partners to make sure all necessary action is taken so children are properly protected. I am encouraged by the progress made since then. This new £23 million for front line services will help build on this progress."

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said:

"Social workers contribute enormously to the lives of individuals and society as a whole.

"Last year the Social Work Task Force set out fifteen focused recommendations for the fundamental reform of the system that supports social workers in England. This plan set out in detail how we will deliver those reforms.

It will require sustained commitment from government, employers and educators. But by working together we can ensure that help is always there for whoever needs it."

Protecting children and keeping them safe is one of Government's highest priorities. Today the National Safeguarding Delivery Unit (NSDU) - responsible for driving Lord Laming's recommendations, has launched a suite of documents to reflect on progress and set out an ambitious programme of further improvements for the year ahead.

The documents are:

- The Government's Response to Lord Laming - One Year On;
- Revised statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children;
- The Government's response to the Working Together to Safeguard Children consultation;
- Local Safeguarding Children Boards - Practice Guidance for Consultation and
- A DCSF research brief entitled 'The Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the New Local Safeguarding Children Boards in England'.

Latest update on Social Work Recruitment

More than 53,000 people registered their interest to become a social worker after the Government's 'Help Give Them a Voice' and 'Be the Difference advertising Campaigns.

This follows the Government's announcement of 9th March that more than 28,000 people registered an interest, through the Department of Health's social care recruitment campaign, to join the social care workforce.

In adult and children's Social Work across England there are 5000 vacancies that need to be filled.

- Across the country applications to social work and social policy degree courses have risen by over 40 per cent this year - one of the largest increases across all degree subjects.
- Through CWDC's Return to Social Work initiative 600 qualified social workers have registered an interest in coming back to working with Children and families
- For the first time, since Sept 2009, the Newly Qualified Social Worker programme meant that all new graduate social workers - entering statutory and voluntary sector roles in children and adult services - had access to support and enhanced supervision.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls said:

"Last year I launched, alongside music and TV stars, a new advertising campaign, today we can see the results with over 50,000 people wanting to become a social worker.

"Some cynics suggested this sort of campaign might trivialise the seriousness of the issues social workers face. However this figure shows both campaigns have encouraged people to see how they can make a difference to the life of a vulnerable child or adult.

"Social workers have had a really hard time. It's rare to hear about social work success stories and research shows that many people don't know what social workers do.

"One of the achievements I'd most like to recall when I look back at 2009 is for social workers to be understood for the jobs they do. I want their professionalism recognised, supported and challenged, to deliver the highest possible practice standards."

Editor's Notes

This press notice relates to 'England'

1. In December 2009 the Social Work Taskforce made fifteen focused recommendations for the fundamental reform of the system that supports social workers in England. This implementation plan will describe in detail how these recommendations will be taken forward and embedded in local areas.

2. To establish the firmest possible foundation for the social work reform programme, Building a safe and confident future, is accompanied by a commitment to government investment of more than £200m in 2010-11. This investment is additional to core funding for social work in higher education, local government and the NHS. It will be used to support recruitment, student bursaries and practice placements, workforce development, improvement of IT in children's services, piloting of new career grades and supporting employers to remodel services. It also includes funding to support the profession in establishing the independent College, and resources for delivery of the reform programme.

3. In adult services, this funding is additional to the £147m DH Area Based Grant for adult social care and the £237m social care reform grant, which local authorities can spend on social work reform.

4. For children's services, DCSF will be investing more that £100m, including to:

- continue CWDC's recruitment, retention and remodelling programme for children's social workers. (including continuing to make the newly qualified social worker programme available to all new social workers in statutory and third sector services; the Return to Social Work programme; the new Step Up to Social Work Programme for high quality graduates; and the new Advanced Social Work Professional role for which assessments will begin in the summer) and continuing to pilot Social Work Practices

- a £15m capital grant to support further improvement of the Integrated Children's System continued improvement of IT in children's social care

- a new Local Social Work Improvement Fund of £23m. Local Authorities will receive this money from CWDC and be able to use it flexibly to put in place effective systems for responding to contacts and referrals about possible children in need, including those children who are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, and ensure that these children and their families have the right support at the right time..

5. Lord Laming published his report, The Protection of Children in England: A progress report, on 12th March 2009. It included 58 recommendations, 23 of which required revisions to Working Together to safeguard children statutory guidance (including 6 that relate to Chapter 8).

6. All of Lord Lamings recommendations were accepted by the Government. A draft of Working Together was published for consultation on 18 December (together with the new fast tracked Chapter 8).

7. On 5th May 2009 Children's Secretary Ed Balls asked Sir Roger Singleton in his role as the first occupant of the new post of Chief Advisor on the Safety of Children, to advise the government on strategic priorities and the effective implementation of safeguarding policy. Sir Roger was also asked to include his views about the implementation of the recommendations in Lord Laming's report, The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report.

8. 8643 - Working Together to Safeguard Children http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00305-2010

9. Government response to Working Together http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00304-2010

10. 8645 - LSCB Guidance http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00312-2010

11. 8642 - The Government's Response to Lord Laming - One Year On http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00311-2010

12. 8647 - Sir Roger Singleton's report http://publications.dcsf.gov.uk/default.aspx?PageFunction=productdetails&PageMode=publications&ProductId=DCSF-00310-2010

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