Rapid review of child protection procedures in Wales – report published
A quick review of child protection procedures across Wales has found that, on the whole, children’s names are added to, or removed from, the Child Protection Register appropriately in Wales.
In October 2022, the Welsh Government asked Care Inspectorate Wales (CAW) to lead a rapid multi-agency review of decision-making processes in relation to child protection.
The focus of the whole system review was to determine the extent to which the existing structures and processes in Wales ensure that children’s names are placed on, and removed from, the child protection register, appropriately when it is safe to do so.
Safeguarding children is a shared responsibility. Working alongside Healthcare Inspectorate Wales and Estyn, NHI published the interim findings in June 2023 in order to share lessons learned and promote best practice as soon as possible. The full report, including recommendations for all agencies involved in child protection, has now been published.
The report identifies several examples of excellent practice. However, there are aspects of practice that need to be improved and be more consistent across Wales. The report found:
- Overall, information sharing between agencies needs to be improved. The lack of a central IT system to share information makes this even more difficult.
- The workforce is vulnerable with vacancies across a wide range of agencies central to child protection. This can lead to inconsistency for children and families as they experience various changes in social workers. This despite a number of efforts locally and nationally to respond to the lack of manpower.
- The child’s voice is central to making decisions about safeguarding and it should be ensured that they are heard consistently across Wales when making such decisions.
- Regular multi-agency training is needed across Wales to ensure a consistent approach and shared vision on safeguarding procedures and thresholds of when children experience significant harm.
Gillian Baranski, Chief Inspector at AIG said:
“3,670 children were placed on the child protection register in Wales during 2021/22 . Ensuring a robust and consistent approach to child protection is core to keeping children safe.
“Multi-agency practitioners involved in child protection work extremely hard and are committed to ensuring children’s safety. Their commitment is to be commended. However, it is impossible to ignore the significant challenges they face in providing care and support to children in Wales. The challenges relating to the workforce, alongside the increasingly complex needs of children and their families, mean that they do not always receive the care and support they need when they need it most .
“It was encouraging to see so many examples of excellent practice in the field of safeguarding. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute to this very important piece of work. We now need to work together to ensure that this excellent exercise becomes part of the “norm” across Wales.”
The report’s findings are based on research and consultation activity across a wide range of partners involved in child protection; from focus groups with schools and health practitioners to data taken from a survey shared with children whose names are on the child protection register, along with their families.
A definition of the Child Protection Register in the Welsh Safeguarding Procedures can be seen here.