'Free social workers from bureaucracy'

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Social workers should be freed up to respond to child protection issues locally without the restrictions of central Government targets, Professor Eileen Munro has recommended in the final part of her review of the child protection system.

The report says the system has a tick-box culture and aone-size-fits-all approach that does not focus on the needs of thechild.

A new duty on local services should be introduced to co-ordinate anearly offer of help to families who do not meet the criteria of socialservices, to address problems before they escalate to child protectionissues.

Professor Munro said, 'Top-down Government targets and too many formsand procedures are preventing professionals from being able to givechildren the help they need and assess whether that help has made adifference.'

Key recommendations in the review include:

- Local authorities should no longer have to fulfil statutoryrequirements for completing assessments within set timescales.

- Local services that work with children and families should not have tomeet Government targets, national IT systems and national ways ofworking and should be free to redesign services that pay more attentionto the impact on children's safety and welfare.

- A change of approach to serious case reviews; the system is toofocused on what happened, not why.

Sir Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children's Bureau,said, 'Professor Munro is right to focus on the child's experience asbeing central to improving our child protection systems.'

However, he said there was 'unprecedented pressure' in children'sservices and funding available for early help has been reduced by 22 percent since March 2010.



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