Safeguarding – children and young people

Introduction

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding children is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm – this is everyone’s responsibility.

Safeguarding legislation and government guidance says that safeguarding means:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. These duties are clearly laid out in statutory guidance: Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 (a guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children).

Those children who meet the legal definition of a Child in Need (CiN) as detailed in the Children Act 2004:

A child is defined as being in need if:

  • They are unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving, or maintaining a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for them of services by a local authority.
  • Their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without the provision of such services.
  • They are disabled (Sec.17/10 Children Act 1989).

Under the legal framework a Child in Need is identified in one of three categories:

  • Child In Need of Protection - will be on a Child Protection Plan
  • Looked After Child – will be in the care of the local authority
  • Section 17 Children in Need – does not meet the threshold for either of the above, but requires support / intervention to reduce the risk of needs getting worse.

Early Intervention is very important to reduce the risk of children needing a higher level of statutory intervention, this template will include some information on the Common Assessment Framework, and the Early Intervention Hub to demonstrate the level of work undertaken to reduce the numbers of children needing statutory intervention.

Facts, figures and trends

Child protection (CP)

If an assessment undertaken by Children’s Social Care identifies that a child is at risk of significant harm, a Child Protection Conference is held. This is a multi-agency meeting that brings together family members, and professionals to make decisions about the future safety, health and development of the child. The Child Protection Conference will collectively make a decision as to whether a child should be made subject to a Child Protection Plan.

The number of children subject to a Child Protection Plan will vary from month to month, and the data that is reported and used in national data collections uses figures submitted by the local authority as at 31 March each year through statutory returns.

The trend of children subject to a Child Protection Plan has been increasing over the last five years; the table below shows the number of children subject to a Child Protection Plan.

Table 1. Number of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan at 31 March each year.

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Number of children

70

78

82

112

108

Source: Bracknell Forest Borough Council

The rate of children subject to a Child Protection Plan at the end of March 2014 was 39.9 per 10,000 under 18 population. This was slightly higher than the rate for the South East (38.1) and lower than the England rate of (42.1).

When a child is placed on a Child Protection Plan they are registered under a category that best reflects the reasons for their need for protection.

The table below shows the categories that have been allocated for children subject to a Child Protection Plan. The data shows that neglect has risen steadily over a three year period and remains the highest need category. Emotional abuse has reduced from last year. There are 4 registrations under the category of multiple abuse which reflects that some cases are very complex and cannot be attributed to one key factor.

Table 2:  Number of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan by category of need as at 31 March each year.

Type of Abuse

2012

2013

2014

Neglect

37

56

61

Physical

7

7

4

Sexual

2

3

2

Emotional

36

46

37

Multiple

0

0

4

Source: Bracknell Forest Borough Council

Age profile of child protection

The data in table 3 shows that at 31 March 2014 there were no unborn babies subject to a Child Protection Plan, and there were fewer registrations for babies under 1.

There has been a slight increase in registrations for children aged 5 – 9.

The most significant increase has been in the ages of young people 10 – 15 which has doubled since the previous year.

Table 3. Age profile of children subject to a CP Plan at 31 March each year.

 

2012

2013

2014

Unborn

0

4

0

Under 1

12

17

10

1 – 4

36

44

33

5 – 9

21

34

38

10 – 15

12

12

25

16+

1

1

2

Total

82

112

108

Number of children in families

Table 4. Registration of children on a CP Plan by numbers of children and numbers of families as at 31 March each year.

 

2012

2013

2014

Number of Children Subject to a CP Plan

82

112

108

Number of Families

40

56

51

Where do children on a CP plan originate from?

Bracknell Forest has 18 wards in total, and through the year the distribution of children subject to a Child Protection Plan is monitored in relation to the originating address of the child or young person.

In 2012, children with a child protection plan were identified in 12 out of the eighteen wards. The top five wards were:

  • Old Bracknell
  • Harmanswater
  • Hanworth
  • Great Hollands South
  • Priestwood and Garth

These five wards accounted for 70% of the child protection cases as at 31/03/2012.

In 2013, children with a child protection plan were identified in 16 out of the eighteen wards. The top five wards were:

  • Great Hollands North
  • Harmanswater
  • Old Bracknell
  • Bullbrook
  • Priestwood and Garth 

These five wards accounted for 59% of the child protection cases as at 31/03/2013.

In 2014, children with a child protection plan were identified in 14 out of the eighteen wards. The top five wards were:

  • Great Hollands North
  • Great Hollands South
  • Hanwworth
  • Harmanswater
  • Wildridings and Central  

These five wards account for 59.5% of the child protection cases as at 31/03.2014.

Looked after children (LAC)

The term ‘Looked after children’ describes children who are looked after by the Local Authority. Children can become looked after for a variety of reasons and can be supported under Voluntary (Section 20 Children Act 1989) or Statutory (e.g. Care Order) arrangements.

The number of children who are looked after varies from month to month and the data that is reported and used in national data collections uses figures submitted by the local authority as at 31 March each year through statutory returns.

Table 5. The number of looked after children over the last three years as at 31 March each year.

 

2012

2013

2014

Total Number of LAC

100

103

113

The rate of children looked after in Bracknell Forest was 41.7 per 10,000 under 18 population on 31 March 2014. This was lower than the South East rate of 48.0, and significantly lower than the England rate of 60.0.

Table 6 shows the age profile for looked after children. It shows that the age profile has not changed significantly over a three year period.  

Table 6. Age profile for looked after children as at 31 March each year 

 

2012

2013

2014

Under 1

6

6

10

1 – 4

18

16

13

5 - 9

15

17

20

10 - 15

45

43

46

16 + 

16

21

24

Total

100

103

113

Legal status of LAC

Data from table 7 shows that the number of children on Placement Orders remains positive and reflects the numbers of very young children currently within the care system who have been placed for or awaiting a placement for adoption (7% in 2011 and 15% in 2014).

Table 7. Legal status of looked after children at 31 March each year.

 

2012

2013

2014

Interim Care Order

18

13

5

Full Care Order

29

32

38

% of LAC on Care Orders

48%

45%

39%

Placement Orders

8

18

17

% of LAC on Placement Orders

8%

17%

15%

Section 20

44

39

52

% of LAC on Section 20

44%

38%

46%

Other

1

1

1

Total LAC

100

103

113

Where do children who are looked after originate from?

Ward data showing the top five originating addresses for looked after children, based on data as at 31 March each year.

Bracknell Forest has 18 wards in total, and through the year the distribution of looked after children originating from those wards is monitored.

In 2012 the distribution for LAC is spread widely across the borough, in relatively small numbers. However the top five wards were:

  • Bullbrook
  • Great Hollands South
  • Hanworth
  • Old Bracknell
  • Priestwood and Garth

These five wards accounted for 60% of the LAC cases on 31/3/2012.

In 2013 the distribution of LAC across the borough remains widely spread and in relatively small numbers. The top five wards were:

  • Bullbrook
  • Great Hollands South
  • Hanworth
  • Old Bracknell
  • Priestwood and Garth

These five wards accounted for 56% of the LAC cases on 31/3/2013.

In 2014 the distribution of LAC across the borough remains widely spread and in relatively small numbers. The top five wards are:

  • Bullbrook
  • Hanworth
  • Old Bracknell
  • Priestwood and Garth
  • Great Hollands South  

These five wards accounted for 56% of the LAC cases on 31/3/2014.

N.B These figures show the originating address of children when they become LAC and some of those who are LAC will have been LAC for a number of years.

Child in need (Section 17)

A Child in Need (CiN) S17 is a child who does not meet the threshold for becoming looked after, or becoming subject to a Child Protection Plan. The child and their family may need additional help or support to work through some issues / difficulties and they will be identified as CiN S17, and be supported by Children’s Social Care. The aim is to support the child and family through their difficulties and to reduce the risk of the child becoming subject to a Child Protection Plan or becoming looked after.

Table 8.  Number of CiN under S17 as at 31 March each year.

2012

2013

2014

484

555

554

Table 9 shows the age profile of CiN over the last 3 years. The age profile has remained reasonably stable since 2013 with only slight variations across.

Table 9. Age profile of CiN S17 as at 31 March.

Age

No of CiN 2012

No of CiN 2013

No of CiN 2014

Unborn

9

6

7

Under 1 year

18

23

23

1 – 4 years

81

93

99

5 – 9 years

83

144

142

10 – 15 years

175

179

175

16 + years

118

110

108*

Total

484

555

554

* The numbers for CiN 16+ includes those children who are Care Leavers.

National & local strategies (current best practices)

The duty to promote and safeguard children and young people is well established in legislation. It is clear that all agencies have this duty; however Children’s Social Care maintains the responsibility as the lead agency for child protection, working closely in partnership with others.

Locally there are a number of key plans and strategies that ensure the overarching duty to promote and safeguard children and young people is embedded into key priorities.

Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) Business Plan 2014 – 2017 identifies the priorities of the Board based on ensuring it meets its statutory requirements and works in partnership with others to address key areas of safeguarding concern.

What is this telling us?

Bracknell Forest is largely in line with national data in relation to Child Protection and is lower than the national data in relation to Looked after Children; however the increases experienced have continued to place significant additional pressures on all those agencies involved in child protection and LAC processes.

The number of CiN (S17) has remained stable for the last two years.

The age profile of children across CP, LAC and S17 has remained reasonably stable, the most notable exceptions being no unborn babies on a CP Plan in the year 2014, and the rise in children aged 10 – 15 on CP Plans.

Nationally there has been a significant focus on the role of early help (early intervention). The aim of early help is to provide support at a lower level of need and work with children, young people and families to reduce the risk of their needs increasing and then receiving support / intervention from a statutory agency. Early help requires a cooperative multi-agency approach to ensure it works fully in reducing risk factors.

Whilst there will be children in all wards across the Borough, it is clear from the Child Protection and Looked After Children data that there is a higher concentration of need in those wards in the Borough that are more deprived, and where inequalities are more evident for some children, young people and families.

What are the key inequalities?

  • Children and young people affected by issues of poverty / low income.
  • Children and young people affected by poor / inadequate housing
  • Children and young people’s educational outcomes
  • Children and young people’s mental health / emotional wellbeing
  • Children and young people’s life chances - employment etc

What are the unmet needs/ service gaps?

At a statutory level of intervention the needs are around ensuring that all partner agencies have adequate resources to fulfill their statutory responsibilities. This continues to be a challenge due to the sustained high numbers of children meeting the threshold for Children’s Social Care which continues to place a pressure across all partners due to the need to work in partnership to support families and seek to step them down to lower levels of support at the appropriate time.

There is a continued drive to provide support / help at an early stage in order to prevent families escalating to a statutory threshold for intervention. In addition there is pressure when a family steps down from statutory intervention as they may need continued early help support to prevent a re-referral to statutory services.

Recommendations for consideration for other key organisations

There would be value in ensuring sufficient resource to meet statutory functions.

Committed investment in early intervention as a way of reducing future costs.

  • Bracknell Forest ProfileThis section contains the Bracknell Forest ward profiles and demographics.You are here
  • Starting WellThis section contains information on maternity and ages 0-4 years.You are here
  • Developing WellThis section contains information on young people's health and wellbeing.You are here
  • Living & Working WellThis section contains information on adult health conditions and lifestyle choices.You are here
  • Ageing WellThis section contains information on older people's health and wellbeing.You are here
  • People & PlacesThis section contains information on the wider determinants of health.You are here