Print Version: Serious Case Reviews: What is this fear by Social Care Managers?
The mere mention of the words ‘transparency’ and ‘accountability’ appears to have led to a dramatic meltdown in relation to serious case reviews. We at VCF are appalled and disheartened by the lack of LSCB support for full disclosure, introduced by the coalition government in 2010, a decision that we fully support and have campaigned for since 2008.
As more and more local authorities reject the principles behind a learning process for professionals and frontline staff, we need to ask why the system is not working, and genuinely seek to understand what is at the heart of such fears and apparent concerns as we look into more workable alternatives. Otherwise, we will see the introduction of yet another system that may not be fully implemented, or even worse, offers an opt-out for those responsible for initiating such reviews.
A Culture of Resistance
The Serious Case Review Process would seem to be facing an inappropriate level of resistance by Social Care Managers, and thus cannot deliver on its purpose for many at the frontline, for families, or for the public, all of whom deserve to know why children continue to die, and in what circumstances.
All too often, we hear flimsy arguments of cost or media intrusion, although hardly comparable to the life or death of a child. VCF has repeatedly asked that the welfare of children be prioritised over personal agendas and we urge social care management to deliver a genuine response to case reviews such that we can better understand why many preventable child deaths or serious injuries occur.
Is Anyone Listening, Does Anyone Care?
Just who is being protected when we shy away from distributing information that could assist in helping to understand how we can better care for children in the UK? Have we learned anything from the deaths of Victoria Climbié, Antoine & Keniece Ogunkoya, Peter Connelly, Khyra Ishaq and the many other tragic cases across the country? And what of the many children who have been saved by appropriate measures being adopted at the right time? The opportunity to learn from good practice, as well as not so good practice, is invaluable and has been demonstrated to good affect by recent pilot projects aimed at changing to a ‘systems’ approach to case reviews, to better facilitate and support all those involved.
It is also well documented that where safeguarding professionals and families are effectively involved in the process, best practice can be more readily identified and utilised by others in similar circumstances. The idea is not to challenge adversely those who are participating in case reviews, rather to understand why certain actions were taken at the time they were taken. Nor is it to highlight individual failings, although they should not be ignored, but rather to identify potential areas of weakness or support needs.
At VCF, we continue to campaign for the right of children to be protected from abuse and to challenge crimes against children committed either by families, communities, or by the inaction of statutory and governmental agencies.
Commenting on this wholesale rejection by LSCBs to deliver full overview reports, VCF Director, Mor Dioum said “it is imperative that the current review of the child protection system offers both an honest debate on how to facilitate proper transparency and accountability – for the benefit of all, within the child protection framework – and a comprehensive change management programme for children’s social care.”
Only then can we begin to restore public trust in the child protection system.”