20 March 2023

Effective monitoring of safeguarding

Effective monitoring of safeguarding image
Image: ArtemisDiana/Shutterstock.com.

When it comes to children, there is nothing more important than their welfare. A Government report released at the end of last year found that there were over 400,000 children in need of welfare support in 2022 – the highest number on record since 2018, with an 8.8% increase in referral rates from the previous year. These stark figures are a reminder of the need for local authorities to boost collaboration with schools and other agencies for the wellbeing and safeguarding of children.

With rising numbers of children needing welfare support in the UK, it is more important than ever that as a society we ensure that the right systems are in place across multi-agency organisations to be able to provide children with the best levels of care.

The role of local authorities in safeguarding children

Local authorities have an important role to play in the delivery of care and support provided to vulnerable children. On average, local authorities have 35,000 children in their care, which is a challenging responsibility. It is possible that with that many children to take care of, and without the proper processes in place, children may slip through the gaps and safeguarding challenges go unnoticed. Local authorities therefore must work collaboratively together with schools, and other responsible organisations to proactively maximise the support for young people.

A multi-agency approach to safeguarding ensures that responsibilities between different organisations are shared, which is why it’s vital that local authorities, and the departments within them have good communication with schools and other settings in their area to ensure all children have the best possible outcomes.

There are a number of different departments within local authorities that can benefit from a collaborative approach to safeguarding including virtual heads, social care and early help settings as well as domestic abuse teams.

What does a best practice multi-agency approach look like?

A multi-agency approach is all about effective collaboration between organisations responsible for children’s welfare. Every organisation that works with children, whether that is local authorities, schools, or the police, has different roles and responsibilities to make sure any safeguarding concerns relating to a child are logged and shared properly. Effective collaboration can help to identity when early intervention is required to support the needs of a child at risk, and can help to pinpoint the specific actions that need to be taken, ensuring that these are always in line with the best interests of the child.

However, it’s important to stress that multi-agency responses to safeguarding and wellbeing do not replace an individual agency or setting’s duty to identify or support a vulnerable child – instead, this collaboration enhances and supports this duty.

Prioritising effective monitoring of safeguarding

Prioritising effective safeguarding monitoring is crucial to ensure the safety and protection of vulnerable individuals in various settings. It helps to identify and address any potential risks and safeguarding concerns as they arise, so timely and appropriate action can be taken to prevent harm.

By having effective safeguarding measures in place, even the smallest of concerns can be logged so a secure record of a child’s history can be easily accessed by those responsible for their care. Logging small concerns may seem insignificant, but if left unaddressed they have the potential to escalate and become a risk to vulnerable individuals. By logging all types of concerns, those responsible can access valuable insight to the types of issues that are most frequently affecting children.

Effective safeguarding monitoring across agencies can help to build a collective picture of a child’s history and therefore guide timely interventions. This holistic view can help care-givers and other agencies to identify patterns and trends which can be the difference between identifying a much larger safeguarding issue and ensuring that the individual is given the right support, and not.

How can safeguarding software help?

When schools and different departments within local authorities and other settings communicate effectively, there’s better information sharing, joint decision making and coordinated practices. This ultimately leads to improved safeguarding procedures and more effective support for those that need it most.

For example, safeguarding software can help virtual heads share relevant information easily if a child moves from one school to another. Amongst social care settings it can often be challenging for teams to quickly and easily obtain relevant information of vulnerable children or those under child protection so safeguarding software can streamline these processes by ensuring that information such as school data on child protection or vulnerable students can be gathered almost instantly. Safeguarding software can also help domestic abuse teams transfer information in a timely and secure manner, which can save time on managing the process so other decision makers can focus on the best course of action to take.

Safeguarding software enables concerns to be logged efficiently; unlike methods of manually recording concerns using paper trails which are at risk of being lost, safeguarding software enables concerns to be logged in one place.

It also allows a range of concerns such as physical injury and behavioural changes to be logged, enabling patterns to be spotted much more easily. Having access to the full chronology of a child’s welfare also helps relevant agencies to spot trends, which may otherwise be missed if this information isn’t shared. As a result, spotting patterns early can help inform timely interventions so concerns can be investigated as early as possible.

Safeguarding software provides an efficient way to log evidence and can provide clarity to decision making on a case-by-case basis, which can in turn help to inform the right course of action.

John Wild is managing director at CPOMS, a supplier of software solutions for monitoring safeguarding, wellbeing and all pastoral issues.

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