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)