Update to 'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018'

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The  Government has carried out a small update to  'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018'  on the 9th December 2020 with factual changes in relation to information sharing, homelessness duty and references to domestic abuse.

On initial examination, these are the changes that appear to be most relevant, and we will be updating our procedures to reflect these as part of the update process for our customers;

In the definition of safeguarding, impairment of children’s health has been changed to children’s mental and physical health.

In the section on Early Help, has a parent/carer in custody has been added to the list of children in need of potential help and they have added a new paragraph In schools, it is important that staff are aware that mental health problems can, in some cases, be an indicator that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation. Only appropriately trained professionals should attempt to make a diagnosis of a mental health problem, however school staff are well placed to observe children day-to-day and identify those whose behaviour suggests that they may be experiencing a mental health problem or be at risk of developing one. Where children have suffered abuse and neglect, or other potentially traumatic adverse childhood experiences, this can have a lasting impact throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. It is key that school staff are aware of how these children’s experiences can impact on their mental health, behaviour and education.

They have added further details on lawful processing under GDPR and the steps practitioners should be aware of as well as expanding the description of agencies response within Early Help arrangements especially effective assessment of the need for early help.

Added a new section on the Homelessness Duty  and the duty to refer

Change of terminology from Contextual Safeguarding to Assessment of risk outside the home and also adds teenage relationship abuse as a factor

Local Protocol for assessment should also consider the needs of children in mental health inpatient settings.

 In the section People in Positions of Trust, they have added behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.  This was added earlier this year to Keeping Children Safe in Education to capture concerns around transferable risk; for example where a person who works with children is involved in a domestic abuse incident at home and this may have implications for their suitability to work with children.

They have made changes to the term domestic abuse in a number of places in the document to include controlling and coercive behaviour, with an emphasis on practitioners being able to recognise it especially in the context of children who are being exploited.

Under the referral process Where a child or young person is admitted to a mental health facility, practitioners should consider whether a referral to local authority children’s social care is necessary has been added.

In the section on Relevant Agencies, it now says The safeguarding partners should set out in their published arrangements which organisations and agencies they will be working with to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, previously it said must set out

The government have also decided to consult on Keeping Children Safe in Education: Proposed Revisions 2021 . Many of the planned changes were not introduced this year due to the Covid outbreak.

They are seeking views on:

  • revisions to ‘Keeping children safe in education’, the statutory guidance that sets out what schools and colleges should do and the legal duties with which they must comply to keep children safe
  • revisions to the advice on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment between Children in Schools and Colleges

You have until the 4th March 2021 to respond.


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