Laura Sharman 22 October 2015

Councils told to 'weigh up all options' when safeguarding children

Councils told to weigh up all options when safeguarding children image

Councils have been reminded to consider all the options available when safeguarding vulnerable children to avoid making ‘knee-jerk reactions’.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has published a report warning councils to weigh up all options and subsequent consequences when taking action to protect children.

The reminder follows an investigation into how Sandwell Council managed an allegation made about a foster carer of two young children. After a foster carer was arrested, social workers woke the children up and removed them from the man’s care. The LGO said there was no evidence the council had a strategy discussion on the best way to remove the children from the man’s care or what other options were available.

The police later said the allegations against the man were unfounded and and considered them to be malicious. The children were returned to their foster home two weeks after the police closed the case.

Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said: ‘Essential safeguarding processes are in place not to add time and bureaucracy, but to ensure that children’s welfare is paramount.

‘Clearly, councils do not take a decision lightly to urgently remove a child from their home, however they must be able to demonstrate they have thought about all their options and considered the child’s best interests.’

The council has agreed to review its policies in carrying out and recording strategy discussions, and will give staff training on the issue. It will also pay compensation to the foster career and the two children.

Councillor Simon Hackett, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for children's services, said: 'We have a duty to respond in a timely way to make sure vulnerable children are protected. This will always be our top priority.

'We respond on the information available to us at the time, as in this case when we received information from the police. We also have a duty to ensure we have considered all the options and that we have evidenced this correctly.

'We have accepted and are implementing the Ombudsman's recommendations. We have also met with the foster carer after receiving this report.

'We are pleased that the Ombudsman's report acknowledges the council's duty to act promptly in response to child safeguarding risks.'

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Senior Social Worker - LD & Autism

Essex County Council
£30906 - £42254 per annum
Senior Social Worker / Senior Occupational Therapist/ Senior Practitioner With us, you can achieve more - for yourself as well as those you work to s England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Social Worker - Assessment and Intervention

Essex County Council
£30906 - £42254 per annum + + Free On-Site Parking & Benefits Package
Social Worker - Assessment and InterventionPermanentFull Time£30,906 to £42,254 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Social Worker - Children with Disabilities

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Social Worker - Children with DisabilitiesPermanent, Full Time£30,906 to £42,254 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Duty Manager (South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre)

Chelmsford City Council
Grade 5 - Starting at £22,944 per annum, rising to £25,284
South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre is one of Chelmsford City Council's excellent leisure facilities which offers a variety of sporting activities... Chelmsford, Essex
Recuriter: Chelmsford City Council

Assistant Director - Inclusion

Suffolk County Council
£75,745 - £93,245 pa
We are seeking a highly skilled Assistant Director Ipswich, Suffolk
Recuriter: Suffolk County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue