TDA 2.2 Safeguarding
In England the law states that all practitioners working with children have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in accordance with the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004. It is important that everyone working with children fully understand their responsibilities and duties as set out in this legislation which addresses all areas of child care. The term safeguarding has replaced the term child protection and includes promoting children’s safety and welfare as well as protecting children when abuse happens. Promoting welfare has a wider, more positive approach to create opportunities to enable children to have optimum life chances as well as ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care. The concept of safeguarding has only been developed in the last 50 years. Legislation has been improved in this time due to high profile cases such as the death of Maria Colwell in 1973 and Victoria Climbie in 2000 which highlighted the fact that there were serious weaknesses in procedures.
The Children’s Act 1989 which was implemented in October 1991introduced extensive changes to legislation in England and Wales affecting the welfare of children. This act aimed to ensure that the welfare of the child was paramount, working in partnership with parents and authorities to protect the child from harm. The Act also intended to strengthen the child’s legal position, to give them equal rights, feelings and wishes. Children have the ability now to be parties, separate from their parents, in legal proceedings. A central change introduced by the Children’s Act 1989 was the substitution of the concept of parental responsibility for that of parental rights The Act defines parental responsibility as ‘all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property’. Local authorities are also charged with duties to identify children in need and to safeguard and promote their welfare.
The Children’s Act 1989 includes two important sections which focus particularly on child protection.
Section 47 of the Children’s Act 1989 places a duty on Local Authorities to make enquiries into circumstances of children when they have reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm and , where these enquiries indicate the need, to undertake a full investigation into the child’s circumstances. The investigation will include an objective of the needs of the child, including the risk of abuse and need for protection, as well as the family’s ability to meet those needs.
In the course of the investigation the Local Authority must take such steps as are reasonably practical to obtain access to the child, or to ensure that a person authorised by the Local Authority obtains access on its behalf. If access is denied a court order must be applied for unless the Local authority is satisfied that the child’s welfare can be safeguarded without an order.
Section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989 states that local authorities have a duty to ‘safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need. Local authorities can provide a range of services for children who are ‘in need’. Such services are intended to provide support and help to families, including families of children with disabilities and other special needs. Also under section 17 financial assistance exists to promote the welfare of ‘children in need’ and can be used to deal with the needs of children living with or leaving domestic violence by promoting children’s upbringing in own families, provided that this is consistent with the child’s welfare.
Safeguarding legislation is also set down in The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). This came about after worldwide governments promised in 1989 for all...