Agenda item

Southwark Safeguarding Children Partnership (SSCP)

To receive a report from Alasdair Smith, Director of Children and Families, Children & Adults Services on Southwark Safeguarding Children Partnership (SSCP).


The commission then heard from Alasdair Smith, Director of Children and Families on Southwark Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (SSCP) on the following themes


  • National review of children’s safeguarding arrangements resulting in the change from an independent chair to rotating chairmanship between the council, health and the police
  • Need for improvement in private fostering arrangements and subsequent assessments
  • Challenges in recruiting staff for social work and care including children’s safe guarding and care especially in cases of agency staff, London is leading the way in the work being done to adapt to this new business model
  • Demand management, cost of living crisis and austerity putting families under financial and housing pressures
  • Domestic Abuse and Violence cases where children are involved makes up the majority of child safeguarding referrals from the police
  • Funding issues, council work to reduce the number of children coming into care
  • Partnership led reviews of children’s safeguarding in Southwark revealed no significant issues.
  • Independent review and reform of children’s social care and safeguarding by the central government, however there are no new funding streams from the government to support these changes


The commission then asked questions on the following topics


·  Covid lockdown measures leading to increase in domestic abuse referrals involving children and families

·  Need for data over a four year period rather than a two year period (Covid) which indicates a decrease in Child Protection Plans towards the end of the calendar year

·  Training for new and existing parents facing parenting pressures

·  Reasons for Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) review of ‘Good’ rather than ‘Outstanding’ for Southwark


Alasdair informed the commission that although it has been very difficult to exactly pinpoint the reasons behind domestic abuse cases involving children, this could have been due to parental pressures during Covid; the council has made an effort to get early help to the families in such cases.


The commission heard that children under Child Protection Plans are under the Child Protection System where issues and assessments are recorded over a period of time rather than referrals which have to be newly assessed. Only a small minority of parents mean harm to their children and the council has done a lot of work within their safeguarding teams through training to ensure that parents suffering from anxiety during the pandemic do not get included in this minority.

Alasdair explained to the commission that the council offers a wide range of parenting programmes to meet the diverse need of parents from different culture ethnic backgrounds. The council run Children’s Centre runs parenting programmes and also has graduation ceremonies which is a targeted approach towards early help service. In addition early help service in schools brings together Child Safety Agencies, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), Children Health Agencies and Community and Voluntary Service where there is a comprehensive range of parenting programmes.


The commission heard that the Ofsted review of ‘Good’ is quite a high standard in Ofsted’s review process with almost no criticism for Southwark, young people in Southwark have expressed their appreciation for the support received from Southwark’s children’s service which has made them feel as part of a family, the young people who gave feedback were chosen independently by Ofsted. However, there is an issue in private fostering arrangements, where improvement is required.

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