Partnership helping to safeguard Calderdale children in light of tragic incidents

A new three-way partnership to ensure children are kept safe has reported on its first full year of operation amid challenges posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 6:00 am
Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson

At a time when cases nationally have given children’s welfare a high profile, the need to ensure processes to keep them safe are robust, says a senior councillor.

The council’s Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said it was quite timely safeguarding children was being discussed by Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board.

“There has been some tragic cases of the abuse of children over the past weeks which have highlighted how important this work is and how serious it can be when things go wrong.

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“I do think the evidence would show we are in a strong position in Calderdale in terms of safeguarding and children’s social care.

“I think the way our social care teams have worked in partnership with other organisations like schools, health and the police has been really excellent during the pandemic,” he said.

Coun Wilkinson said early intervention in cases and setting up an early help hub to help do this were showing benefits.

Sgt Mick Brown told the board he had a background in investigations into child abuse and in his seven months in Calderdale thought the kind of approach undertaken to ensure the correct procedures were in place to protect the most vulnerable in society were there.

“I have been particularly impressed with what I have seen,” said the police representative.

The council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Julie Jenkins, explained when Government decided to replace formal boards with partnerships, Calderdale Safeguarding Children Partnership was set up with Calderdale Council, the borough’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Calderdale Police representation to offer wider scrutiny.

As an example of one of its roles, her colleague Julia Caldwell gave more detail about one area of work, tackling child sexual exploitation – Calderdale has a multi-agency team in place, including working with schools.

Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) and Neil Smurthwaite of the CCG sought assurances about “ghost” children, who were missing from school for example, falling off the radar in the pandemic.

Ms Jenkins said measures were in place regarding children who were missing from school and early intervention including through Calderdale’s multi-agency screening team had been judged by peers from other authorities to be robust.

The board heard that when children are subject to a child protection plan social workers see the child alone to find out what they feel about their day to day life in their household and the child’s voice is important.

Ms Caldwell said it was more difficult when children were not subject to child protection plans – a lot of children who were abused were not on plans – and a lot of attention was given to processes to combat this.

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