Responding to the Education Select Committee's report into child protection, Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:
"It is encouraging that the report recognises that improvements in child protection have been made in recent years and that the approach outlined by the Munro Review is the right one.
"However, one of the key elements of that review was that too much control from the centre does not help to reduce the risk to children and that social workers on the frontline must be left to use their professional judgement and to get on with the job. It is vital that progress in this area is not reversed before the reforms have had chance to have an impact.
"Of course, when it comes to protecting children there is no room for complacency and this report provides a useful challenge to continue with these improvements. Key among the report's recommendations is that there needs to be better support for older children.
"Councils take their role as corporate parents extremely seriously and are always looking for ways to improve the lives and ensure the safety of the children in their care but any reforms or additional training must go hand in hand with existing work to reform the social work system. Imposing additional changes on already hard-pressed social workers is not the answer.
"Ensuring the safety of vulnerable children is one of the most important jobs councils undertake and social workers face incredibly difficult decisions each and every day about when to step in and remove a child from its family. Councils understand the importance of early intervention to prevent problems further down the line and are seeking to invest in this. But as the committee rightly points out, the current financial climate means councils are being forced to take extremely tough spending decisions.
"What is clear is that we cannot afford to let the impact of the cuts to local authority funding affect their ability to protect society's most vulnerable children. The Government must ensure councils have sufficient resources so their work in protecting children is not undermined and recent improvements are not reversed."
Author: LGA Media Office
Contact: Alison Purdy, LGA Media Team, Telephone: 020 7664 3333
7 November 2012