SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter provides the context for all procedures.
It contains the overarching policy for the provision of services to children and families.
Section 2, How we Practice in Children's Services was updated in April 2020 to include information on the Lancashire children, young people and families' partnership vision which is based around five outcomes, five partnership priorities, five partnership ways of working and five partnership measures of impact.
This policy sets out the framework within which Children's Services work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:
- Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
- Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
- Care Standards Act 2000;
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child;
- Human Rights Act 1998;
- Adoption and Children Act 2002;
- Data Protection -Legislation;
- Children and Families Act 2014;
- Children and Social Work Act 2017.
The policy framework also has regard to, and is consistent with, a range of government guidance, particularly the principles set out in the Statutory Guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children.
It is largely directed towards the work that Children's Services undertakes with Children in Need and Looked After Children; which is carried out in partnership with all sectors of the Local Authority and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.
2. How we Practice in Children's Services
Lancashire children, young people and families' partnership vision:
- Vulnerable children and young people are safe from harm and build resilience;
- Children and young people achieve their full potential in education, learning and future employment;
- Children and young people enjoy healthy lifestyles and know how to help others;
- Children, young people and families have a voice in shaping the support they receive;
- Children and young people live in Lancashire where they can enjoy a good quality of life, be happy and want to stay.
Five partnership priorities
- Improve the environment in which children and young people live, learn and work;
- Support children, young people and their parents to make healthy lifestyle choices and to build strong families, friendships and healthy relationships;
- Provide children and young people with a good quality education and learning opportunity which matches their talents, ambitions and aims and enables a positive transition to adulthood;
- Prevent the need for children to become looked after, and with compassion, step in when necessary to keep children and young people safe from harm;
- Support children and young people to influence decision making and bring about positive change for themselves and others.
Five partnership ways of working
- We will focus on the children, young people and families who need our support;
- We will focus on strategic priorities which raise aspirations and enable people to work locally to build on the strengths of people and their communities;
- We will build on what works well;
- We will collaborate and share information;
- We will provide critical challenge to improve practice and outcomes.
Five partnership measures of impact against our greatest challenges.
- Improve the healthy life expectancy for children and young people;
- Increase the number of children who achieve a good level of development at the end of the reception year;
- Increase the number of 16-17 year olds in education, employment or training;
- Show clear evidence of improved outcomes as a result of family participation;
- Ensure the right number of children are in the care of the Council.
3. Key Principles
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children will always be at the centre of the work Local Authorities and their partners undertake with children and their families. The child's needs are paramount, and the needs and wishes of each child, be they a baby or infant, or an older child, should be put first, so that every child receives the support they need before a problem escalates.
Children's Services, together with their local authority colleagues as corporate parents, will work to secure the above outcomes by working to enable a child's own family including their wider family to meet their needs. They will facilitate services, including early help services, to support children and families consistent with the child's safety and well-being.
Where a child cannot be cared for within their immediate family, strenuous efforts will be made to identify potential carers within the wider kinship network of the child who are able and willing to meet the needs and best interests of the child. If continuing care within their family is not possible, every effort will be made to identify suitable alternative carers through adoption or other forms of permanence. Efforts to secure the child's future must be timely and avoid delay. Children's Services will ensure that permanence plans are made for all looked after children within 4 months of their becoming looked after.
Children's Services will ensure that children who are looked after are placed in properly approved placements, suitable to meet their needs and that, wherever possible, brothers and sisters are placed together. They will be placed in a family placement unless there are assessed reasons why residential care or an alternative type of placement is the better option. Family Time will be promoted, and where required, supported, except where this may be contrary to the child's best interests.
If a young person remains in care until adulthood Children's Services will ensure that they are supported when they leave care, including through remaining in their foster placement (Staying Put), at least until they are 25, to give them a positive start to independent living. This support will include personal assistance with living independently and with accessing and making the most of education and employment opportunities.
Children, their parents and other significant adults will be consulted about plans for their care and these plans will be subject to regular independent review. Children and their families will be encouraged to take part in their reviews and can expect that their views will be listened to and will help shape the child's Plan.
Children's Services will ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard, where this is appropriate.
4. Our Strategy
The Strategy of the Children's Services will be to harness Government policy and funding opportunities to develop evidence-based services that meet the needs of children and families.
To reflect on and consider feedback on local and national issues and to promote a learning and development culture that will work to provide:
- Sustainable and cost-effective structures and services;
- Partnerships with other statutory services and locally based providers;
- Well-trained and supported staff who are able to carry out their responsibilities effectively;
- A commitment to seek the views of service users/stakeholders and to use their input as a key method for evaluating current services and improving future service delivery;
- A clear sense of corporate responsibility throughout the Council which ensures that children and their families have their needs met within the community.
This will deliver a range of universal, targeted and specialist services. These services will aim to reduce the numbers of children becoming children in need and concentrate specialist services on children most in need to give them the best possible life chances.