Helping children and young people to be safe and feel safe
Reducing persistent absence from school for children living in families with multiple problems, who are receiving our help.
Keeping Hampshire’s children and young people safe is a key priority for all Children’s Trust partners. Working closely with the Safeguarding Children Board, we will retain a relentless focus on the timeliness, quality and effectiveness of the support given to children, young people and families; keeping children at the centre of what we do.
We recognise that preventative and early intervention services can do more to reduce abuse and neglect than reactive services. Therefore, through the Children’s Trust and Local Children’s Partnerships, we will develop a coherent and transparent offer of local services that work to prevent problems developing, and give support and help to families as early as possible, when needed. Collectively, we will increase our shared understanding of local levels of need and ensure that we can provide, refer or signpost to local services that match these needs and are based on strong evidence of what works. By working together, we can also more effectively help those families with multiple problems, supporting them to make positive changes in their lives.
This means we need to develop even stronger partnerships, with greater co-ordination, more effective information sharing and good training, support and professional advice for those working with children and young people. This includes building on our existing strong understanding of the thresholds for statutory services, ensuring that the most vulnerable children get this level of support as soon as possible.
Key activity areas:
- reviewing and redesigning children’s social work services in line with national changes in the framework for safeguarding, with an emphasis on promoting direct work with children and young people
- exploring the development of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
- ensuring there is sufficient provision of early help, with improved access to information about these services
- embedding the Principal Social Worker role and continuing to improve the quality of training, supervision and support for social workers
- providing targeted support for families with multiple problems
- promoting child safety with parents/carers, and helping children and young people understand how to keep themselves safe, thereby reducing the possibility of children entering risky behaviour.
How this has improved since 2009
Strengthened safeguarding arrangements
Investment in safeguarding services in Hampshire over recent years has focused on continually improving the timeliness and quality of services provided to vulnerable children and young people. It has also enabled us to effectively manage significant increases in demand for services, as illustrated in the chart below.
In summary, between 2007/08 and 2010/11:
- the rate of children in need per 10,000 population of children and young people increased by 58.1%
- the rate of referrals per 10,000 increased by 60.6%
- the rate of initial assessments per 10,000 increased by 56.6%
- the rate of Child Protection Plans per 1,000 increased by 58.8% (which reflects a 26.7% increase in the rate of new CPPs).
At the same time as responding to this increased demand, the County Council has improved the quality of services, with good and outstanding judgements received following the 2011 Ofsted inspection of safeguarding and services for children in care. Inspectors noted that outstanding partnership working helps keep children and young people properly safeguarded, with a strong sense of safeguarding being everyone’s business. They found that this effective working is leading to increasingly good outcomes for children and young people.
Reduced rates of bullying
Hampshire’s multi-agency Anti-Bullying Strategy Group was highlighted nationally as an example of promising practice. Implementation of the anti-bullying strategy included guidance for schools, a directory of good practice, training courses, leaflets and online information and an annual conference for young people, by young people. The proportion of children who reported being bullied in school during the last year fell from 23.7% in 2008 (Pupil Attitude Survey, Years 6, 7 and 9) to 17.8% of Year 6 pupils, 22.8% of Year 7 pupils and 18.5% of Year 9 pupils in 2011 (Pupil Attitude Survey).
Why this is still a priority
Area of significant change
Safeguarding is an area of considerable change nationally, so we need to give additional focus to adapting to new statutory requirements, ensuring that Hampshire’s services continue to provide effective support for the most vulnerable children, young people and families. We will strive to achieve high performance against the new national performance frameworks for safeguarding.
In securing the best outcomes for individual families, protecting children is a collective responsibility, requiring constant vigilance. Therefore, it is imperative that we work together to help prevent problems and address those that do develop, as early as possible. The earlier we help, the less likelihood there is of more serious problems developing later. The structure of Hampshire’s Children’s Trust, with Local Children’s Partnerships working together at a community level, provides an ideal platform for mapping levels of need and promoting a shared understanding of the services on offer in an area.
Protecting our most vulnerable children
We know there is always more that can be done to improve services. Hampshire has a strong and effective Safeguarding Children Board, closely linked to the Children’s Trust. All relevant partners will continue to play an active role in the Board, ensuring that we learn from practice and outcomes of Serious Case Reviews, both nationally and locally, so that we continue to improve services – and ultimately outcomes - for children and young people.
Families with multiple problems
By working together more effectively, we stand a better chance of changing the lives of those families who have a number of problems. This is an area of focus nationally, with the Government asking local authorities to identify and support each of these families. It is estimated that there are 1,590 families in Hampshire with multiple problems (Department for Education, 2011). The sort of problems these families have include: parents/carers not being in work, parents/carers with mental health problems, children not attending school, crime and anti-social behaviour. Rather than responding to individual problems as they emerge, we will work with families to put in place a plan of action to improve school attendance, reduce anti-social behaviour and support parents/carers into work.