Working Together 2018
First published on 26 March 2015, this is the key statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Reviewed and re-published on 4th July 2018, Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 sets out new requirements for improved partnerships to protect children.
Children at risk of abuse or neglect will now be protected through improved partnerships between local police, councils and health services.
Strengthened guidance sets new legal requirements for the three safeguarding partners, who will be required to make joint safeguarding decisions to meet the needs of local children and families.
Senior police, council and health leaders will jointly be responsible for setting out local plans to keep children safe and will be accountable for how well agencies work together to protect children from abuse and neglect.
The new advice is aimed at all professionals who come in to contact with children and families and includes guidance on current threats to child protection, such as sexual and criminal exploitation, gangs and radicalisation.
The Department for Education has published two pieces of statutory safeguarding guidance which set the framework within which all practitioners should operate in order to protect children from abuse and neglect and promote their best interests:
- Revised Working Together to Safeguard Children statutory guidance; and
- Local Safeguarding – Transitional Arrangements statutory guidance.
Both can be found at www.gov.uk/working-together-to-safeguard-children–2
The 2018 version replaces the 2015 version. The transitional guidance helps explain how to move to the new arrangements. The statutory framework sets out the legislation relevant to safeguarding and it should be read alongside the statutory guidance.
The NSPCC have produced a briefing highlighting the key changes in the new 2018 edition at www.nspcc.org.uk/revised-guidance-working-together-safeguard-children-2018/
The Department for Education has already released the updated version of Keeping Children Safe in Education which comes in on the 3rd September 2018, until then schools and colleges must continue to use the current statutory guidance dated September 2016. This revised statutory guidance should be read alongside Working Together to Safeguard Children.
In addition from the 29th June 2018, Local Authorities in England must notify the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident.
They should report incidents where the local authority knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected and:
- the child dies (including suspected suicide) or is seriously harmed in the local authority’s area;
- while normally resident in the local authority’s area, the child dies or is seriously harmed outside England.
For more details on the reporting process visit www.gov.uk/report-a-serious-child-safeguarding-incident
Scared to share??
When Working Together was updated in July 2018, the government made the rules about information sharing much clearer? This is what it says:
“Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare, and protect the safety, of children, which must always be of paramount concern”
Also – you do not always need consent to share personal information, although you should try to get it. It is good practice to get consent to share information as soon as you start to work with a family, so that this does not become a potential barrier later on if concerns start to escalate. There may be times when it is not appropriate to seek consent, either because the individual can’t give it, it is not reasonable to get it, OR because to gain consent would put a child or young person’s safety at risk.
Take the time to read the updated guidance in Working Together 2018 (pages 18 to 20) and make sure everybody that you work with knows about it too.