Background to the current ‘Safeguarding Children Arrangements’ as outlined in Working Together 2018.
The Safeguarding children partnerships were preceded by Local Safeguarding Children Boards as outlined in ‘Working Together to safeguarding children 2015. Each LSCB had an independent chair who maintained independent oversight of the working of the partnership. The Association of Independent LSCB Chairs (AILC) was the preceding membership association at the time. It was set up in 2012 with the aim of ensuring that the voice and substantial experience of Independent LSCB Chairs would be heard more effectively so as to improve the effectiveness of LSCBs and promote better outcomes for children and young people through the multi-agency child protection system.
In 2016, the Department for Education (England) published the ‘Wood Report: Review of the Role and Functions of Local Safeguarding Children Boards’ (DfE, 2016).
In his executive summary Wood notes the case for ‘fundamental reform’ of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs), ‘…based on a widely held view that LSCBs, for a variety of reasons, are not sufficiently effective… ‘ . He notes need for a higher degree of confidence that the strategic multi-agency arrangements ‘…are fit for purpose, consistently reliable and able to ensure children are being protected effectively’ (Wood 2016: 5-6 ). Wood advocated ‘…replacing the existing arrangements for the LSCB with…strategic multi-agency arrangements for child protection…key agencies being health, the police and local government’ (Wood, 2016: 7).
The Children and Social Work Act, 2017, and the DfE guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, 2018 embedded these recommendations into legislation and guidance, abolishing LSCBs and introducing multi-agency safeguarding children arrangements with three partner leads.
- The local authority
- A clinical commissioning group for an area any part of which falls within the local authority area
- The chief officer of police for an area part of which falls within the local authority area
(DfE, 2018: Chapter 3, paragraph 5).
In addition, it established a National Child Safeguarding Practice review panel and gave responsibility for child death reviews to new Child Death Review partners.
The new arrangements mean that three partner leads are to agree safeguarding budgets and plans for the local areas they represent. The multi-agency arrangements are to be independently scrutinized.
In addition, ‘relevant agencies’ are to be included in implementing safeguarding plans (details are published in UK Government (2018).
The DfE allocated funding for local authorities to bid to be an ‘early adopter’ of the new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, including early adoption of Independent Scrutiny. Seventeen areas were funded as early adopters and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) was appointed to work with them to share learning and offer peer and national implementation support. Findings from this work are available on the NCB website.