1.3 Practice Guidance
These Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton (HIPS) child protection procedures set out how agencies and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
This guidance reflects the practice requirements referred to in Working Together to Safeguard Children.
Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe. No single practitioner can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances and, if children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.
In order that organisations, agencies and practitioners collaborate effectively, it is vital that everyone working with children and families, including those who work with parents/carers, understands the role they should play and the role of other practitioners. They should be aware of, and comply with, the published arrangements set out by the local safeguarding partners.
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined in Working Together 2018 as:
- protecting children from maltreatment
- preventing impairment of children's health or development
- ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
- taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play.
The Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Children Act 2004 and the Children and Social Care Act 2017) introduced Significant Harm as the threshold that justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children. It sets out specific duties: section 17 of the Children Act 1989 puts a duty on the local authority to provide services to children in need in their area, regardless of where they are found; section 47 of the same Act requires local authorities to undertake enquiries if they believe a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm.
Harm is defined as the ill treatment or impairment of health and development. This definition was clarified in section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 so that it may include, “for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another”.
Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years. Early help can also prevent further problems arising; for example, if it is provided as part of a support plan where a child has returned home to their family from care, or in families where there are emerging parental mental health issues or drug and alcohol misuse.
The local Threshold document/Local Protocol for Assessment provide effective ways to identify emerging problems and potential unmet needs for individual children and families, as well as clear guidance and procedures for all professionals, including those in universal services and those providing services to adults with children.
The local Threshold document includes information as follows:
- The process for the early help assessment and the type of early help services to be provided.
- The criteria, including the level of need, for when a child should be referred to children’s social care for assessment and for statutory services under:
Harm to unborn children
A local protocol enables practitioners to work together with families to safeguard unborn/newborn babies where risk is identified. It provides an agreed process between health agencies, social care and other agencies working with the mother and her family on the planning, assessment and actions required to safeguard the unborn/newborn baby.