Safeguarding v Safeguarding


Ding Ding round one! A common theme I always here is that working with looked after children is not the same as working in child protection – or its not ‘Safeguarding’ young people.  It is almost the same as “My team is better than your team” attitude, and one that makes me angry as it shows a real lack of understanding of what Safeguarding is and what child protection is.  With five years experience of both I feel that I have a good understanding of what this means for both a child at home and a child in care.

So I was surprised to here back this week that I did not have enough ‘Safeguarding’ experience.  A comment that I almost choked upon, and had to quickly test whether the person making the comment understood what they had just said.  It was clear that they did not as they quickly tried to further evidence their statement with no real further understanding of social work.  A typical problem for many recruitment teams for Local Authority’s.

So what is ‘Safeguarding’ and what is ‘Child Protection’ a definition can be found on the department of Education’s website here:  But just to be clear

Safeguarding is defined as

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.

and Child Protection is defined as:

Child protection is a part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. It refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm.

It is clear to see why some families would become upset with social workers who are working closely within child protection if they themselves can not understand what the safeguarding work is and the child protection work they are doing.  After all the aim is not to remove the child, but rather ensure families can remain together.

Furthermore with the rise in investment of early intervention this is even more important in preventing vulnerable families to fall through the still newly protective services designed to prevent social work intervention and child protection plans where they might not be needed.

It does then worry me, how this can be actioned if the aim of the work can not be understood or for social workers to be able to develop a skill set need to work with vulnerable harder to reach families and young people that require safeguarding and child protection interventions.

Moreover, I can see how newly qualified social workers continue to struggle to find work when social work management are set on finding the ‘right’ type of social workers using the new language of systemic practice and systems thinking that basic language such as ‘safeguarding’ is forgotten.

I hope that this is a blimp and not a return to a school playground scenario of one side chanting my team is better than yours, with the chorus being repeated from the other side.  I know that I will be challenging this view and hope that for those working in child protection or with looked after children that they remember

Effective child protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, all agencies and individuals should aim to proactively safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced. (department of Education)



4 responses

  1. Hi I currently work within residential care for children. This blog outlines a lot of issues within social services that are reapeated throughout the care system.

    I feel a lot of people are not looking at the wider picture anymore and looking at children and young people as numbers or statistics.

    This to me feels that we are not helping children or young people into ressilient adults but just completing a series of ticks in boxes.

    I am hoping to go to university to do socialwork next year with the illusion that I will make a difference when qualified as I see so much going wrong from the outside looking in. Im just scarred that when qualified the dream of being a knight in shinning armour will be crushed by the big wigs .

    I hope to read more enlightening blogs from you as I follow you on twitter

    1. Thank you for your comments Luke, Like you I started work as a residential worker and this doe give you a clearer understanding of the care system and what you will be expecting.

      You will also know that change does not happen over night, so do not lose you dream of being a knight in shining armour instead harness the passion and continue to understand what you are doing. Do not lose focus of what ‘Safeguarding’ means and continue to fight for the young people’s rights to be able to grow into young adults with all of the help and support they need.

      kind regards


  2. Hi, I work in a LAC team, after having worked for many years in Child Protection Teams. There can be a bit of an us and them attitude sometimes but I think having experience in both fields is a real asset for a social worker

    1. I agree completely, being able to distinguish from Safeguarding young people and providing child protection is essential. There should also be an encouragement of Social Workers to be able to work both sides of Safeguarding in order to be able to understand the impact of the decisions they make and ultimately improve the outcomes of the young people we work with.

      Kind regards


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