2.1 Local Safeguarding Children Board – Role and Function

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The Children Act 2004 required each local authority to establish a Safeguarding Children Board. 

Working Together to Safeguard Children: March 2015, Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Statutory objectives and functions of LSCBs sets out in detail the arrangements for the work of each Local Safeguarding Children Board. This chapter provides a summary only.

1. Statutory Objectives and Functions of LSCBs

Section 14 of the Children Act 2004 sets out the objectives of LSCBs, which are:

  • To coordinate what is done by each person or body represented on the Board for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area; and
  • To ensure the effectiveness of what is done by each such person or body for those purposes.

Regulation 5 of the Local Safeguarding Children Boards Regulations 2006 sets out that the functions of the LSCB, in relation to the above objectives under section 14 of the Children Act 2004, are as follows:

(a) Developing policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the area of the authority, including policies and procedures in relation to:

  • The action to be taken where there are concerns about a child’s safety or welfare, including thresholds for intervention;
  • Training of persons who work with children or in services affecting the safety and welfare of children;
  • Recruitment and supervision of persons who work with children;
  • Investigation of allegations concerning persons who work with children;
  • Safety and welfare of children who are privately fostered;
  • Cooperation with neighbouring children’s services authorities and their Board partners;

(b) Communicating to persons and bodies in the area of the authority the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, raising their awareness of how this can best be done and encouraging them to do so;

(c) Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of what is done by the authority and their Board partners individually and collectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and advising them on ways to improve;

(d) Participating in the planning of services for children in the area of the authority; and

(e) Undertaking reviews of serious cases and advising the authority and their Board partners on lessons to be learned.

Regulation 5 (2) relates to the Serious Case Reviews function (see Learning and Improvement (Including Serious Case Reviews) Procedure.

Regulation 5 (3) provides that an LSCB may also engage in any other activity that facilitates, or is conducive to, the achievement of its objectives.

Regulation 6 relates to the LSCB Child Death functions. Refer to chapters in Section 10, Unexpected Child Death of this manual.

2. Scope of the Role

In order to fulfil its statutory function under Regulation 5 an LSCB should use data and, as a minimum, should:

  • Asses the effectiveness of the help being provided to children and families, including early help;
  • Assess whether LSCB partners are fulfilling their statutory obligations (set out in Chapter 2: Organisational Responsibilities of Working Together 2015);
  • Quality assure practice, including through joint audits of case files involving practitioners and identifying lessons to be learned; and
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of training, including multi-agency training, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The Children’s Safeguarding Performance Information Framework provides a mechanism to help do this by setting out some of the questions a LSCB should consider. (Download the framework from DfE).

Research has shown that multi-agency training in particular is useful and valued by professionals in developing a shared understanding of child protection and decision making. Carpenter et al (2009). The Organisation, Outcomes and Costs of Inter-agency Training to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families.

LSCBs do not commission or deliver direct frontline services though they may provide.

3. Accountability

LSCBs to not provide or commission direct frontline services although they may provide training. Whilst the LSCB has a role in coordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of local individuals’ and organisations’ work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, it is not accountable for their operational work.

Each Board partner retains its own existing lines of accountability for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children by their services.

While the LSCB does not have the power to direct other organisations it does have a role in making clear where improvement is needed.

4. Integration with Other Forums

It is important that safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is seen as part of the wider context of the Children’s Strategic Partnership and that the LSCB’s policies, guidance and procedures such as these, reflect and contribute to the wider goals of improving the wellbeing of all children. The LSCB complements the role of the Children’s Trust Board and the LSCB should be represented on the Children’s Trust Board although the two bodies should be chaired by different people.

The Children’s Trust Board – drawing on support and challenge from the LSCB – will ensure that the Children and Young People’s Plan reflects the strengths and weaknesses of safeguarding arrangements and practices in the area and what more needs to be done by each partner to improve safeguarding and promotion of welfare. The LSCB is a formal consultee during the development of the Children and Young Peoples Plan (see also Section 8, LSCB Annual Report).

5. Membership

The LSCB is made of organisations which will designate particular, named people as their LSCB member so that there is a consistency and continuity in membership.

Members will be those with a strategic role in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children within their organisation. They should be able to:

  • Speak for their organisation with authority;
  • Commit their organisation on policy and practice matters;
  • Hold their organisation to account and hold other to account.

Section 13 of the Children Act 2004, as amended, sets out that an LSCB must include at least one representative of the local authority and each of the other Board partners set out below (although two or more Board partners may be represented by the same person). Board partners who must be included in the LSCB are:

  • District councils in local government areas which have them;
  • The chief officer of police;
  • The Local Probation Trust;
  • The Youth Offending Team;
  • The NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups;
  • NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts all or most of whose hospitals, establishments and facilities are situated in the local authority area;
  • Cafcass;
  • The governor or director of any secure training centre in the area of the authority; and
  • The governor or director of any prison in the area of the authority which ordinarily detains children.

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 amended Section 13 and Section 14 of the Children Act 2004 and provided that the local authority must take reasonable steps to ensure that the LSCB includes two lay members representing the local community.

Section 13(4) of the Children Act 2004, as amended, provides that the local authority must take reasonable steps to ensure the LSCB includes representatives of relevant persons and bodies of such descriptions as may be prescribed. Regulation 3A of the LSCB Regulations prescribes the following persons and bodies:

  • The governing body of a maintained school;
  • The proprietor of a non-maintained special school;
  • The proprietor of a city technology college, a city college for the technology of the arts or an Academy; and
  • The governing body of a further education institution the main site of which is situated in the authority’s area.

All schools (including independent schools, Academies and free schools) have duties in relation to safeguarding children and promoting their welfare. Local authorities should take reasonable steps to ensure that the LSCB includes representatives from of all types of school in their area. A system of representation should be identified to enable all schools to receive information and feed back comments to their representatives on the LSCB.

The LSCB should work with the Local Family Justice Board. They should also work with the health and wellbeing board, informing and drawing on the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment.

The LSCB should either include on its Board, or be able to draw on appropriate expertise and advice from, frontline professionals from all the relevant sectors. This includes a designated doctor and nurse, the Director of Public Health, Principal Child and Family Social Worker and the voluntary and community sector.

Lay members will operate as full members of the LSCB, participating as appropriate on the Board itself and on relevant committees. Lay members should help to make links between the LSCB and community groups, support stronger public engagement in local child safety issues and an improved public understanding of the LSCB’s child protection work. A local authority may pay lay members.

The Lead Member for Children should be a participating observer of the LSCB. In practice this means routinely attending meetings as an observer and receiving all its written reports.

In order to provide effective scrutiny, the LSCB should be independent. It should not be subordinate to, nor subsumed within, other local structures.

Every LSCB should have an independent chair who can hold all agencies to account.

All LSCB Chairs should have access to training and development opportunities, including peer networking. They should also have an LSCB business manager and other discrete support as is necessary for them, and the LSCB, to perform effectively.

It is the responsibility of the Chief Executive (Head of Paid Service) to appoint or remove the LSCB chair with the agreement of a panel including LSCB partners and lay members. The Chief Executive, drawing on other LSCB partners and, where appropriate, the Lead Member will hold the Chair to account for the effective working of the LSCB.

The LSCB Chair should work closely with all LSCB partners and particularly with the Director of Children’s Services. The Director of Children’s Services has the responsibility within the local authority, under Section 18 of the Children Act 2004, for improving outcomes for children, local authority children’s social care functions and local cooperation arrangements for children’s services. See Department for Education Statutory Guidance on the Roles and Responsibilities of the Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children’s Services which expands on this role.

The LSCB also need to draw on the work key national organisations and liaise with them where necessary, for example the Child Exploitation and On-Line Protection Centre (CEOP).

6. Structure

To assist the LSCB with its objectives, each LSCB has a supporting structure. Terms of Reference for each of the Boards sub-groups are available through the LSCB websites.

7. Annual Business Plan

The LSCB produces an annual business plan setting out:

  • A work programme for the following year to include measurable objectives;
  • Relevant management information of child protection activity in the previous year;
  • Progress against objectives established for the year ending.

8. LSCB Annual Report

The Chair must publish an annual report on the effectiveness of child safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in the local area (this is a statutory requirement under Section 14A of the Children Act 2004). The annual report should be published in relation to the preceding financial year and should fit with local agencies’ planning, commissioning and budget cycles. The report should be submitted to the Chief Executive, Leader of the Council, the local police and crime commissioner and the Chair of the health and wellbeing board.

The report should provide a rigorous and transparent assessment of the performance and effectiveness of local services. It should identify areas of weakness, the causes of those weaknesses and the action being taken to address them as well as other proposals for action. The report should include lessons from reviews undertaken within the reporting period (see Chapter 4: Learning and Improvement Framework and Chapter 5: Child Death Reviews of Working Together 2015).

The report should also list the contributions made to the LSCB by partner agencies and details of what the LSCB has spent, including on Child Death Reviews, Serious Case Reviews and other specific expenditure such as learning events or training. All LSCB member organisations have an obligation to provide LSCBs with reliable resources (including finance) that enable the LSCB to be strong and effective. Members should share the financial responsibility for the LSCB in such a way that a disproportionate burden does not fall on a small number of partner agencies.

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