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Social Services: Children

Volume 493: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many serious case reviews there have been regarding the death of a child in Essex in each of the last 10 years. (268004)

I refer my hon. Member to the reply given on 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 442W. This indicates that, of all notifications received between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2008 of serious child care incidents, one Serious Case Review had been initiated where a child died and abuse or neglect was known or suspected to be a factor in Essex.

Data prior to 1 April 2007 are not available in this form. However, the Department commissions an academic biennial analysis of all Serious Case Reviews to help ensure lessons are clearly identified and disseminated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what funding his Department has allocated for the implementation of the latest Laming Report’s recommendations; and from what budgets such funding has been drawn; (273664)

(2) what funding his Department plans to provide for child protection as a result of the Laming inquiry and the Baby P case.

The Government are investing £130 million in social work reform over the full spending review period, of which, £57.8 million is additional new investment announced on 6 May 2009 as part of the Government’s detailed response to Lord Laming’s Report. This represents a substantial commitment to improve the recruitment and training and development of social workers and will significantly increase the capacity of the system to implement change immediately.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) by what date he expects a usability review of each integrated children’s system and related local authority infrastructure and implantation system to have been completed; (275397)

(2) from how many local authorities the Social Work Task Force took documentary evidence as part of its work on the integrated children’s system;

(3) whether local authorities will have discretion to opt out of the national integrated children’s system recommended by Lord Laming in his report on Safeguarding Children.

Lord Laming’s report “The Protection of Children in England” identified a number of concerns in relation to the Integrated Children’s System. Lord Laming recommended that the Government should, in consultation with social workers and their managers, take steps to improve the utility of the system to support them in their role and to ensure appropriate transfer of essential information across organisational boundaries. Lord Laming also recommended that the DCSF should undertake a feasibility study with a view to rolling out a single national Integrated Children’s System better able to address the concerns his report identifies, or find alternative ways to assert stronger leadership over local systems and their providers.

In immediate response to Lord Laming’s report, the DCSF asked the Social Work Task Force to accelerate its advice in relation to the Integrated Children’s System and to advise how Lord Laming’s recommendations in should be taken forward.

The task force’s advice was informed by consultation with practitioners, managers and IT implementation staff at events around the country, by a number of visits to local authorities and by 649 submissions of on line evidence from individual practitioners and managers, and local authorities. It was set out in the task force’s first report on 5 May.

As set out in “The Protection of Children of England: action plan”, the DCSF has accepted the task force’s recommendations in relation to steps it can take immediate to improve usability of the system and to support greater local leadership. We will shortly be writing to local authorities to set out detailed next steps, including explaining the arrangements and time scales for usability reviews of each local system.

The Government have also accepted the task force’s advice that the future model for the Integrated Children’s System should be locally owned and locally led, within a strong and simplified national framework which reflects the statutory requirements for children’s social care, rather than a single national system.

In line with Lord Laming’s recommendations, we are also taking forward a national study into issues relating to interoperability of ICS with other IT systems and how this can best be supported.

We expect the task force to make more detailed recommendations to us, in October, about the reforms necessary to support high quality social work practice. The Government will consider any further improvements to the Integrated Children’s System as part of the comprehensive programme of reform for social work which we have committed to bringing forward in the autumn.