Safeguarding Children was the subject of a detailed Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) in Devon. Whilst the overall Joint Strategic Needs Assessment process in Devon looks at health and wellbeing in the broadest sense, the Safeguarding Children JSNA collects evidence together for a field where cross-agency arrangements require strong leadership, shared intelligence and appropriate joint commissioning arrangements to be effective. Safeguarding means:
“Protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of children’s health or development; ensuring children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.”
(Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2015)
The Safeguarding Children JSNA is structured around the four themes underpinning the work of the Devon Safeguarding Children Board; protection from maltreatment, prevention of impairment to health and/or development, ensuring safe and effective care and ensuring a safe environment.
The recommendations in the JSNA are divided into four categories, covering changes to commissioning processes, data collection and reporting procedures, areas requiring strategic development and changes to working practices. The full JSNA and a short synopsis of main findings can be found here: http://www.devonhealthandwellbeing.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Devon-Safeguarding-Children-JSNA-2014-15.pdf
Ofsted carried out an inspection of Devon County Council’s arrangements for safeguarding children earlier this year (2015) and the findings are available here: http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/devon.
There was a rapid rise in demand for children’s social care assessments after the previous Ofsted inspection. During 2013/14 there were 8,717 Children In Need referrals, of which 162 (2%) resulted in no further action. This represents a 54% increase in referrals from 2012/13 (5,648 referrals).
As at 31st March 2014 there were 5,741 Children in Need in Devon , an increase of 23.5% from the previous year (4,648 children) , this number includes Children in Care and Children with a Child Protection Plan. Provisional reporting for the 2014/15 financial year indicates this trend has stabilised and the number of children in need is starting to fall.
As at 31st March 2014 there were 600 Children with a Child Protection Plan in Devon, a significant increase (34.5%) from 446 children the previous year, which was in turn an increase from 404 children at 31st March 2012. Child Protection Plan numbers have therefore risen by 48.5% over two years. Provisional reporting for the 2014/15 financial year indicates this trend has stabilised and the number of children subject to a child protection plan is starting to fall.