Planning to boost child protection

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COUNCIL bosses have welcomed a major review into child protection which calls for more focus on the needs of youngsters and their families.

The Munro Review of Child Protection claims the system has become too bureaucratic and target-driven and instead highlights early intervention as key.

Senior councillors will sit down on Monday to discuss the report, which has been backed by officers at Hartlepool Borough Council, at a meeting of the cabinet committee.

The report has made 15 recommendations to Government to improve the system including:

l The system must be fully focused on the needs of individual children and young people rather than central time-scales and targets;

l It promotes the idea that the Local Safeguarding Children Board should have a greater level of accountability;

l It promotes the idea that systems should be child-centred in a bid to develop relationships between families;

l It also calls for a greater emphasis on local discretion and professional judgement.

The Munro Review, which was led by Eileen Munro, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, was published by the Department for Education in May.

A report by Nicola Bailey, the council’s director of child and adult services, said: “The review seeks to empower local areas to develop responsive practice that is shaped around the needs of children, young people and their families.

“It aims to ensure that social workers are freed up from bureaucracy in order to work effectively with children and their families through positive relationships and spending time listening to them, understanding their experiences, worries, hopes and dreams and helping them change.”

The report adds that the radical change in direction should not be underestimated and “presents many challenges” to the council.

But Ms Bailey added: “Hartlepool is consistently judged to have a good performing child protection service which means we are well placed to respond to the reviews and its recommendations for practice.

“The service is motivated and inspired by this review and is keen to take this unique opportunity to learn and improve local child protection practice.”

Councillors are asked to endorse the report and back officers from the child and adults services to develop a plan to implement the recommendations.

The cabinet committee is due to meet on Monday, July 4, at the Civic Centre, at 9.15am.