Posts tagged ‘Serious Case Reviews’

November 13, 2011

Ages of Concern – Social Workers underestimate the ‘fragility’ of babies – from Community Care

Social workers underestimate the ‘fragility’ of babies

Social workers and other professionals are not always quick enough in their response to concerns about children under a year old because they underestimate the fragility of babies, according to an evaluation of serious case reviews.

The finding comes from an analysis of 482 SCRs – evaluated by Ofsted between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2011 – concerning 602 children, including 210 babies under one. It is included in a thematic report, Ages of Concern, published today by the watchdog to highlight key lessons learned from SCRs involving vulnerable groups – babies under one and children over 14.

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October 2, 2011

What is the opposite of early intervention?

Sadly, it is a homicide review – in this case child death reviews.  So it is really depressing to read that one of the biggest increases in council budgets this year is for child death reviews – up 141% to £16.3 million.  That is an increase of about £10 million.  And £10 million clearly wouldn’t transform early intervention, but somewhere all this is false economy.

July 29, 2011

Moving from planet to planet

On our new CPD course which looks at safeguarding children living with DV, we talk about the ‘3 planets’ theory developed by Professor Marianne Hester.  This theory highlights how differently a single family is regarded on the domestic violence planet (victim is central, perpetrator is held responsible for their actions, children are not very visible), the child protection planet (victim often held responsible, perpetrator is often invisible and children are central) and the child contact planet (victim and perpetrator are treated equally, children are central).  We spend most of our lives on the domestic abuse ‘planet’ and can often be heard to say that those who ‘live’ on the other planets, just ‘don’t understand’.

One of the things that has been revealing on this training, has been how valuable it is to start to understand how the planets interpret the same situations, and why they see things differently.  We have just been assessing the work of the last course and one comment really struck us.  The practitioner concerned highlighted the following:

The course ‘gave me a chance to focus on quality of my referrals to children’s social care concentrating on the effects of the abuse on the children. This was a steep learning curve as previously I had been so centred on the ‘domestic abuse planet’ (Hester, 2004) my referrals prior to this process tended to forget that the idea was to focus on safeguarding the children, but instead was more generalised about the whole situation.

Completing the work around referrals has provided me with the confidence to challenge children’s social care about rejected referrals but also has given me the knowledge to look back at my referrals and amend and re-refer, resulting in some cases being opened by children’s social care, purely due to me providing more accurate and child focused information.

For so long we have read the serious case reviews that highlight the ‘professional optimism’ of practitioners working with the adult, and our research Safety in Numbers again showed that over 25% of children living with domestic abuse experienced direct threats of harm – 11% with direct threats to kill.  Feedback like that above gives us hope that this might show a way to narrow this gap.

April 17, 2011

The Voice of the Child…or the Deafness of Adults?

Ofsted has just published a report entitled “The voice of the child: learning lessons from serious case reviews” which looks at the themes coming out of 67 serious case reviews for a total of 93 children held between April and September 2010.  The messages that come out are very familiar by now and make one wonder why these same points come up again and again?

Children were not seen frequently enough or asked about their views and feelings.  Agencies didn’t listen to the adults who tried to speak on behalf of the child.  Parents and carers prevented professionals from seeing the child and focused too much on the needs of the parents.  Agencies failed to interpret their findings well enough to protect the child.

When one goes into the detail a few other things come out.  There is a really broad responsibility to identify children at risk and then to refer to specialists- one review asks how they can engage the general public in safeguarding- an ambitious task perhaps?  The invisibility of fathers and male partners both as a risk and as a potential safeguard is highlighted.  Shockingly, the report reminds us that if practitioners feel concerned for their own safety going to a home they should ‘consider the implications of risk to children’  How can we forget this?

For me the report underlines two things.  Firstly, the need for good training and supervision for all practitioners working with children and those working with adults who live with domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health problems and homelessness.  There are many cases where the professionals didn’t listen enough, a few where they listened ‘too much’.  Every case has its own unique features.  We need professionals with the confidence to use their own judgement- let’s hope our CPD programme with its focus on safeguarding children living with domestic abuse helps to address this.  (

The second message is the need for Children’s Services and LSCBs to link in with MARACs and use this forum as an existing means to access additional information and support for children.  The report underlines again the need for multi agency work.  In practice, we know that many areas are struggling to get consistent engagement from Children’s Services with their MARAC.

The report from Ofsted can be found at