Feedback from the LSCP’s March Bi-Annual Network Meeting

The purpose of our Bi-Annual Meetings is to share information from organisations across the Leeds Children Young People Partnership, and to hear from front-line practitioners, front-line managers and safeguarding leads, as well as to provide an opportunity for practitioners to network.

The March meeting focused on thematic learning from recent reviews and then provided an opportunity for a more in depth discussions about two key themes (the voice of the child and working with families going through grief)) included the following topics:

1.    Learning from Reviews

The LSCP believes that all reviews, and associated processes, are about considering the details of a case, looking at how decisions were informed and actioned, based on what was known at the time, and identifying good practice along with any potential opportunities for practice development and improvement.

Between 1st May 2021 to 31st December 2022 the LSCP have undertaken 11 Rapid Reviews, 4 Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews and 3 local learning review processes.

The common themes across these reviews are:

  • Professional curiosity 

There were examples of excellent practice in relation to the application of professional curiosity, however there were still instances of a lack of professional curiosity, or the recording of where a practitioner has been professionally curious. 

  • Disguised compliance

This is where individuals divert attention from what is happening within a family through appearing to be co-operative and providing practitioners and agencies with the information requested. 
There were instances where this information was not pursued further by the practitioner, with requests for assurances as to how the family were undertaking what was asked of them.
This is closely associated with the need for professional curiosity.

  • Escalation processes

The Concerns Resolution process outlines the steps to be taken when there are disagreements between practitioners from differing agencies in relation to concerns about the safety and welfare of a child or young person, and / or action being taken to safeguard a child or young person.

The reviews illustrated that occasionally where professionals have attempted to escalate concerns, they have not always been resolved as expected. 

The reviews also noted that there wasn't a consistent recording process implemented in the early stages of a concern. This made it difficult to identify where the process had worked effectively.

  • Death of a significant family member 

There was evidence of good practice in relation to how families were supported, and where appropriate, signposted to bereavement support.

There is a need to ensure a sensitive balance between supporting families in relation to the grieving process alongside the need to monitor plans and assess risk. 
The impact of a bereavement needs to be considered in all assessments, including the impact on accessing services or progression of a safeguarding plan. 

  • Different agencies risk assessment processes

Good practice was evident in relation to single agency and multi-agency assessment processes, information sharing and partnership engagement in processes. 

Practitioners are not always fully aware of or fully understand different agencies' risk assessment processes or what the identified risk levels / assessment outcomes mean. 

  • Domestic Abuse

Good practice in relation to the consideration of domestic abuse through:

  • identifying and recording children within the family
  • appropriate referrals to Children’s Social Care
  • use of Routine Enquiry 
  • information sharing in relation to domestic incidents, MARAC and DRAMM meetings and the associated outcomes including flags on individual’s records. In some instances a need to improve how consideration of domestic abuse, including further enquiries is recorded by practitioners, along with outcomes of any enquires. There is a need to improve how risks and / or impact for children is assessed, including how historical abuse is considered and assessed in relation a first-time pregnancy or the birth of a first child 

Impact of Covid Pandemic 

Excellent practice with staff going above and beyond to:

  • Ensure services were offered and provided
  • Provision of food parcels
  • Regular visits and contact with families 
  • Services adapting to continue to operate within the required guidelines.
  • Specific impacts of the pandemic were:
  • reduced agency capacity and staffing levels which resulted in a lack of consistency of allocated workers for families
  • differing ways of working eg; reduced face to face visits and contact
  • isolation for children from services, schools, and peers
  • cancellation of appointments (by agencies and families) due to either ways of working or illness which resulted in longer periods of time between agency contact with a family. 
  • Complex health needs 

Good practice was identified in relation to services and the support provided.
The reviews highlighted the impact of the numerous services and agencies involved with a family, including co-ordination of numerous medical appointments.

There was the potential to normalise a child or family’s presentation. The child’s needs should always be assessed and considered.

The is a need for assurance in relation to the  access of appropriate medical support when a child is staying out of area.

  • Consistent application of safeguarding approaches 

There was a notable impact of consistent application of core safeguarding approaches for improving outcomes for children and young people including:

  • Think Family Work Family approach
  • Was Not Brought Approach
  • Early Help Approach 
  • Safeguarding being everybody’s responsibility 
  • Excellent practice where approaches have been considered and applied.

Practitioners can access all the reviews undertaken by the LSCP in the Learning from Practice section of the LSCP website. 

2.    The Voice of the Child

Group discussions took place to share best practice on how practitioners can provide opportunities for children:

  • to say what life is like for them, 
  • to hear what is really being said, including disclosures and 
  • what to do with the information.

Best practice included:

  • Building relationships between the child and the practitioner is key. This can only be achieved over time. 
  • Ensuring that the child or young people understand what the process is if they want to speak to someone. You can use posters, information on your website, or online chats etc.
  • Ensure inclusivity and accessibility for example  ensuring opportunities for children where English isn’t their first language.
  • Using the Think Family Work Family approach to ascertain what is going on for that young person's lived experience and any risks in the home that might be impacting on the young person. 
  • Being trauma informed by offering therapeutic and person centered work. Thinking about what might have taken place for a young person eg, a death in the family or domestic violence, that is impacting on their well-being and safety.
  • Provide 1-1 supervision for staff, providing support from safeguarding leads, having regular reminders, having training provided and different opportunities for staff to help with their confidence. 
  • Ensure that information is recorded and discuss with your Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) any concerns.

3.    Working with families going through grief – how to manage risk and safety plans within the context of family bereavement

Practitioners were signposted to the following organisations for support and training services:

Martin House Hospice

  • Offer support to all families following the death of their child. Support is tailored to the family's needs and can take place at the hospice or in local counselling rooms. In some circumstances home visits may be possible.
  • Provide a regional specialist paediatric palliative care service, based near Leeds. Provide support to families and professionals in homes and hospitals throughout the region.

Child Bereavement UK

Deliver training for professionals in health and social care, education, the emergency services and the voluntary and corporate sectors, equipping them to provide the best possible care to bereaved families.

If you would like to be included in future discussions by attending the Bi-Annual meetings, please check back to our website, where the date of the next meeting will be published.

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