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London Safeguarding Children Board: Child Protection Procedures 5th Edition London SCB Powered by tri.x Powered by tri.x
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1. A Child Focussed Approach to Safeguarding

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Effective safeguarding systems are child centred. Failings in safeguarding systems are too often the result of losing sight of the needs and views of the children within them, or placing the interests of adults ahead of the needs of children.

Children want to be respected, their views to be heard, to have stable relationships with professionals built on trust and for consistent support provided for their individual needs. This should guide the behaviour of professionals. Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs. A child-centred approach is supported by:

See Working Together to Safeguarding Children 2015:

Children have said that they need

  • Vigilance: to have adults notice when things are troubling them;
  • Understanding and action: to understand what is happening; to be heard and understood; and to have that understanding acted upon;
  • Stability: to be able to develop an on-going stable relationship of trust with those helping them;
  • Respect: to be treated with the expectation that they are competent rather than not;
  • Information and engagement: to be informed about and involved in procedures, decisions, concerns and plans;
  • Explanation: to be informed of the outcome of assessments and decisions and reasons when their views have not met with a positive response;
  • Support: to be provided with support in their own right as well as a member of their family;
  • Advocacy: to be provided with advocacy to assist them in putting forward their views.

Effective on going action to keep the child in focus also includes:

  • eliciting the child's wishes and feelings - about their situation now as well as plans and hopes for the future;
  • providing children with honest and accurate information about the current situation, as seen by professionals, and future possible actions and interventions;
  • involving the child in key decision-making;
  • providing appropriate information to the child about his or her right to protection and assistance;
  • inviting children to make recommendations about the services and assistance they need and/or are available to them;
  • ensuring children have access to independent advice and support (for example, through advocates or children's rights officers) to be able to express their views and influence decision-making.

Even initial discussions with children should be conducted in a way that minimises any distress caused to them and maximises the likelihood that they will provide helpful information. Children may need time and more than one opportunity in order to develop sufficient trust to communicate any concerns they may have, especially if they have a communication impairment, learning disabilities, are very young or are experiencing mental health problems.

In addition to individual practitioners shaping support around the needs of individual children, local agencies need to have a clear understanding of the collective needs of children locally when commissioning effective services. As part of that process, the Director of Public Health should ensure that the needs of vulnerable children are a key part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment that is developed by the health and well-being board. The LSCB locally should use this assessment to help them understand the prevalence of abuse and neglect in their area, which in turn will help shape services.