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ADCS defends social workers over safeguarding assessments

Children’s services leaders have defended council child protection teams over suggestions they are not investigating safeguarding concerns raised by schools quickly enough.

A survey of head teachers found nearly one in five said social work assessments of children referred by schools to local authorities as a result of safeguarding concerns were not being completed within recommended timescales. 

The survey of 1,104 head teachers found many respondents blamed the delay in assessments on the fact that many local authority child protection teams are “overworked, understaffed and stressed”. 

But Alan Wood, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), said child protection services were performing well in the face of rising demand and reduced budgets. 
“In these testing circumstances it would not be surprising if there were a deterioration in the performance but we do not believe this is borne out by the evidence,” he, referring to the 82% of leaders who did not say there was a problem.

He added: “The completion of statutory assessments is a dynamic process which requires everyone to take an active role and that includes ensuring the designated teacher for child protection raises any concerns about timeliness directly with senior social work staff.”

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said schools do their best to ensure all pupils get the help and support they need. “Schools are increasingly being expected to act as social workers as well as teach children and this puts a huge burden on them. They need help and support from social services and health services to help with the problems faced by vulnerable children, but this is increasingly hard to find because the cuts to local authority funding have led to many of the support services being cut.”

Interface has created a course specifically considering effective referrals to children social care which covers the referral process, thresholds and requirements , an effective assessment, when and how to challenge appropriately and confidence in escalating concerns.

See here for more information.