The purpose of this report is to update the Health and Wellbeing Board on the work of the Medway Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB) and to provide Members with an update on the MSCB Strategic Plan 2017-20.
The update was introduced by the MSCB Independent Chairperson. It was noted that this was one of two reports presented to the Board each year with the Board’s Annual Report being due to be presented to the Board in November 2017. The report currently under consideration was similar to the paper that had recently been presented to the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The MSCB had agreed its priorities for the next three years. Some of these were as follows:
· Looking at how safeguarding worked with schools. Engagement could be more challenging as the majority of schools were now academies rather than being under control of the local authority.
· Promoting multi-agency working, including multi-agency training programmes.
· Using the new Graded Care Profiles to improve the quality of case assessments and improving dialogue between different agencies.
· Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) – implementation of an effective strategy and work with Kent police work to raise priority of CSE.
· Development of the multi agency safeguarding hub bringing professionals together to share knowledge held about a child.
The MSCB had commissioned three Serious Case Reviews (SCR) that were currently underway. The first two of these were expected to be published in July 2017. The third SCR was in in relation to alleged abuse of children at Medway Secure Training Centre. This review would take place following the conclusion of a criminal trial with it being anticipated that the review would report its findings in April 2018.
The Board was informed that the Children and Social Work Act 2017 provided the Council, police and the CCG with greater power to co-ordinate the work of agencies with regards to child safeguarding. A meeting had taken place with the Council Chief Executive to progress this work.
The Board raised a number of points and questions which were responded to as follows:
Domestic abuse – Communication between agencies was key to tackling domestic abuse, particularly helping children to understand what constituted a good relationship. This was particularly important where children were not exposed to stable relationships in their home environment. The MSCB Independent Chairperson was working with the Department for Education to create guidance regarding domestic abuse. This would be issued to local authorities.
Volunteer Training – In response to a Board Member who asked what training was available for volunteers who had limited involvement with children, it was confirmed that this issue was being considered by Medway Voluntary Action. Taster sessions were available to volunteers which provided them with a general awareness of safeguarding issues. The MSCB would be re-designing its website for use as a promotional tool.
Engagement - It was agreed that the Primary Headteachers Association provided a good mechanism for engagement in relation to safeguarding. The Board was advised that the MSCB had two headteacher representatives, one primary and one secondary.
Kent Police – Kent Police was considered to be an invaluable local partner that took children’s’ issues seriously, although it was suggested by a Member that political correctness could be a problem with regards to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation. The MSCB Independent Chairperson said that CSE was a challenge as victims of it were not always aware that they had been victims and there could be a hostile reaction to intervention. Ignorance of the law was also a problem.
Parenting Skills – In response to a Board Member who considered that parents who had limited parenting skills was an issue, it was stated that a role of the MSCB was to challenge partners in relation to this issue and that available support would be promoted via schools.
The Board considered the contents of the update report and provided comments.