Children & Social Work Bill [Lords]

Written evidence submitted by Lisa Bailey (CSWB 34)

Re: Children and Social Work Bill: power to test different ways of working (new clauses 2 to 9).

I am writing this submission to please ask the Committee to not allow the exemption clauses to be reinstated.

Summary: I have worked with children and families for 16 years as a youth work, Education Welfare Officer, Family Support Worker and I am currently supporting young people who are experiencing Child Sexual Exploitation. I am in no doubt that allowing individual councils to opt out of their duties will place the most vulnerable children in our society at even more risk.

I currently work for a charity and on an almost daily basis I advocate on behalf of young people who are experiencing sexual abuse in the form of Child Sexual Exploitation. I work with Social Workers from different Local Authority Social Workers to try and keep these young people safe across counties. At present, there is a clear line of accountability and responsibly. When advocating for the needs of young people, I refer to this line of accountability and responsibility often to ensure that these young people are kept safe. We work with young people in crisis, and decisions often need to be made quickly to keep young people safe right now. We can only make these decisions quickly because as a professional network we are all clear about our individual responsibility to protect and EVERY local authority’s legal responsibility to protect. Opting out will create gaps. Every serious case review I have read highlights the danger of children falling through existing gaps in services – why would we actively create more?

I have worked for universal children and young people’s services that have been commissioned. My experience of commissioned services is that they not do not increase creativity or innovation. Where is the evidence that they do? My experience is the exact opposite. Commissioned services create silo’s, duplication, confusion, a greater need for co-ordination, less defined accountability and INCREASED RISK. Commissioned services try (NOT always successfully) to deliver what they have been commissioned to deliver. Children and young people often have complex needs that may fall outside of one providers remit. Who then takes responsibility? I have been in numerous meeting were providers of commissioned services refuse to take responsibility for issues outside of their remit. THIS CAN NOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN IN A SAFEGAURDING SERVICES. As a professional who works to keep young people safe immediately, I can’t be having conversations about why one organisation isn’t going to take responsibility, when another should. We don’t have time to then be raising complaints with commissioners about services only providing within their remit. And I know this will happen.

What message are we giving to young people when we opt out of our legal responsibility to protect?

January 2017

 

Prepared 5th January 2017