Professionals missed significant opportunities to protect murdered toddler

24 Sep

653This appears to be a running line across serious case reviews but it is unclear what happens once it is uttered. The one thing that is clearly done within a local authority, once a serious case review has been undertaken, is that there is a slew of either “voluntary” resignations or outright dismissals. In terms of practice however, there doesn’t appear to be a change if we are getting the same outcome/recommendation from every case review.

Of course, being me, I have some recommendations.

1- it needs to be drilled into the minds of medical staff and professionals that Safeguarding is EVERYONE’S responsibility.

This comes from a range of things from their unwillingness to report, the signing off of sick notices on the word of a parent, over reporting or escalation of details to warrant a response, unwillingness or lack of confidence in challenging parents of children with significant injuries, etc. I am sympathetic to the fact that they have a limited amount of time in which to do their exams etc. but I would challenge them with this: If this was your child being brought in by the person who you charged with their day to day care while you were working, how would you like it to be handled? Whatever their answer, that’s what you should be doing for everyone’s child. There shouldn’t be one rule for how your child is managed and how everyone else’s child is managed.

2 – professionals across the board need to become more confident in challenging parents and being more aware of the care given to children.

This includes those across housing, education, and any other public service. I have to say that I have seen partners in education really step up and are getting in right in many places but we still have work to do.

3 – this trend of blaming IT needs to STOP!

We already know there is a problem but what is being done about it. Why isn’t there a national medical database with indicators that can inform other medical professionals when an injury is suspicious, i.e. it is not discernable whether or not this is an accidental injury? Why isn’t there a system in place to alert other locla authorities to homeless families entering their area?

4 – Blame should not be the game. Change should be the game.

I don’t understand, from someone on the outside looking in, what is being done to change the way practice is being supported to ensure these things don’t continue to happen. In the case of Keanu Williams it is said that the Social Worker actually presented a “well-argued” case to have Keanu on a child protection plan but this was not taken up by conference. That is reflected in a small section. I am sure that had this Social Worker not idetified this risk it would have been on every page about how he/she failed in her duties. As a matter of fact the first line of the Community Care article says “Social workers and other professionals missed significant opportunities to protect a toddler who was murdered by his mother in Birmingham two years ago.”

Where is the recognition that a Social Worker did raise this concern and it wasn’t taken up? There is one sentence. It is not to say that there shouldn’t have been challenge or a further attempt to push the agenda (this is something that needs to be present throughout all professionals), but at least have equality in how things are reported.

There has to be themes that run through these serious case reviews and somewhere that records what these are. I am going to go on the hunt for them. I know one theme is parents who themselves have been through the care system. But there have to be others, like frequent moves etc.

Once we get the themes we can create a plan. Another theme that has run throughout is for “more joined up working.” This is just another useless phrase unfortunately. It has been talked about in circles but nothing has been done about it. How do we as professionals share the relevant information needed to protect children from abuse? How I ask?

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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Social Work Practice, The Social World


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