The Failure of Inter-agency Collaboration to Safeguard the Well-being of Children

The Failure of Inter-agency Collaboration to Safeguard the Well-being of Children

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The role of interagency is about evaluating and monitoring the needs of the vulnerable children and families, with a clear vision to ensure that mutual outcomes are attained to promote the safeguarding, well-being, learning and development of the vulnerable children ( Barnardos, 2007)
Furthermore, this essay will discuss the serious case review of Victoria Climbie with the dilemma of how the interagency working to benefit to children’s learning and development has failed to safeguard a vulnerable child. Whilst, the lack of interaction, respect for each other’s role and responsibilities, collaboration, assessing and transferring un-accurate record, has resulting in the death of Victoria Climbie.

In addition, to safeguard the children, there are statuary laws and policies implemented by the government for instance, the Human Right Act (1998) the Education Act (2002), Female genital mutation Act (2003) the Crime and victim Act (2004) Safeguarding vulnerable groups Act (2006) Forced marriage Act (2007) and the Child protection legislation such as Children Act (1989) and the Children Act (2004)

To promote safeguarding, the Children’s Act (2004) set out five outcomes for the children and the young people, i.e. to staying healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being. This Act made it statuary for the local authorities to establish the LSCB with an aim to protect the vulnerable children from all kinds of abuse and harm, such as, forced marriage, child trafficking, physical abuse, witchcraft, sexual exploitation, female genital mutation, fabricating illness and the well-fare of an unborn child.

In addition, it was the responsibility of all the professionals including the inter-agency to safeguard and promotes the well-fare of the children. The United Nation Convention on the Right of Children (UNCRC) 1992 recognises that, the children should be allowed to participating in decisions making to influence the solutions for their future and to be heard. The children should also be provided with advocacy services, and to make sure that their rights are respected and heard.

According to the Munro report (2011) that state, a one size fits all is not the right way for child protection agencies to operate. This report also suggested that the inspection for the safeguarding services should be un-announced to help provide agencies with an exact update on the nature of the child’s needs. These recommendations suggested by Munro sets out a wide range of measures to safeguard and promote the physical, emotional, social and behavioural development of the children.

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"The Failure of Inter-agency Collaboration to Safeguard the Well-being of Children." 26 Feb 2020

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Thus, the major responsibility of the LSCB is to undertake reviews for serious cases. These reviews make an important contribution to identify the events where a child has died or has been seriously harmed.

The serious case review was set out by the Working Together (2006) stating ‘when a child dies from abused or neglected, the local interagency responsible for the child protection conduct a review how their system can improve to work together (DfE 2013) The serious case review brings together all the organisations involved in the case, including the local authority children’s service, the police, health, education and social services to assess the actions they have taken to protect the vulnerable children.
It could be argued that, all the events surrounding the absence of good practice of the interagency system failure has resulted in the death of Victoria Climbie at the age of eight years and three months. Victoria was known to two different housing authorities, four social services departments; two child protection teams of the metropolitan police service (MPS), a specialist centre managed by the NSPCC, and were admitted in two different hospitals. Her injuries consists of sexual abuse, malnourishment, 128 other separate injuries, deformation, cigarette burns and scars on her body, tied up for periods of longer than 24 hours, hit with a bike chain, hammer and wire. Similarly, made to sleep and live in the bath tub with hands tied inside a refuse bag while lying in her own body excretions and forced to eat like a dog.
According to Lord Laming report, ‘the suffering and death of Victoria was a gross failure of the system.’ There were at least twelve different occasions available where interagency could have intervened and safeguarded Victoria, but lack of multi-agency co-ordination was the substantial cause following her death.
The LSCB, protection plan consist on the findings from the assessment and following the dimensions relating to the child’s developmental needs, parenting capacity, family and environmental factors. Whereas in Victoria’s serious case review no assessment of need was made by any inter agency professionals, such as social worker. It was apparent that the medical evaluation, physical examination, differential diagnosis, notes keeping, handover of care and monitoring of outcome was simply not followed. However, when possibility of non-accidental injury was raised by one of the doctor, it was not picked up by another because there was lack of responsibility of care, and then confused by another diagnosis which was not confirmed.
The Lord Laming expressed, in his report that bad practice was extremely costly, and had Ealing done the job on the second day that Victoria was in this country, it is probable that all of the other agencies would not have needed to be involved.
One of the key reasons why the system failed Victoria’s case so badly was because these agencies never gave sufficient priority to her needs for safeguarding and promote her welfare, such as, at Acton housing department one of the staff found Victoria very weak and frail, but she thought that it was a deliberate attempt to claim state benefits. Instead, if she had shown some concern or raised an issue at that time on Victoria’s condition perhaps she could have been saved.
As it was the responsibility of the LSCB role to keep up-to-date information on each child known to the local authority children’s social services to enable the social service to provide accurate information about the child to legitimate enquirers. Howe ever, Victoria was known by many agencies, but not a single agency empowered by parliament to protect her in positions. Her records were never kept up to date and accurate; the quality of information exchanged was poor, which failed to be passed between hospitals in close proximity to each other. The homeless person’s unit in the Ealing Council referred across to social worker in Acton’s referral and assessment team, but no written or electronic documentation of the referral was evident. According to the lord laming report “had the presence of mind to follow what are relatively straightforward procedures on how to respond to a child about whom there is concern of deliberate harm produced.
Similarly, the core functions of LSCB also include safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people, and all those working with children/parents/carers must have the knowledge and skills to carry out their own roles. This system failure reflects to Victoria’s case, where the staff was not adequately trained with professional skills and personal qualities, such as, a social worker who visited Victoria’s house several at her assumed wrongly that they have moved away from this address after and took no further action. The school observed Climbié tended to fall asleep in class, had a shaven head and was wearing a wig and was small and frail for her age, but failed to recognize signs of abuse. On several occasions, her child minder observed small cuts on her fingers and cheeks. Instead she believed her aunty that they were caused by razor blades that Climbié was played with. Her burns in one of the hospital were described by doctor as scabies, but another hospital found no sign of scabies. Despite obvious signs of physical abuse consultant Mary Rossiter felt Climbié was 'able to discharge' on her notes although another doctor at the hospital had noted that Climbié was exhibiting signs of neglect, emotional abuse and physical abuse, thus no action was taken. A social worker and police were, respectively assigned to her case, and were scheduled to make a home instead that visit was cancelled once they received information that Victoria is diagnosed with the scabies.
However, the suffering of Victoria was a great system failure that could be avoided, as it was evident that agencies responsible for Victoria’s safeguarding gave no importance to safeguard her.
Furthermore, as a result Victoria’s serious case review made many change to the system firstly by Lord laming report that was made public in 2003 which consists of 108 recommendations to change children services. Also, it led to the Every Child Matters (2004) and revised polices in the Children Act (2004). Similarly the Munro review of child protection (2012) identified area in need of greater attention and the system should be child centred, focused on the journey through the system and
To conclude, this essay has highlighted on various concerns emerging from the system failure of inter-agency collaboration, to safeguard the well-being and to benefit the learning development of the vulnerable children and their families. In 2003 it was recorded that there were about 384,200 children in need and from these, 69,100 were looked after in state care while the rest were in families or living independently (DfES, 2003).
In my opinion, the LSCB needs to be more alert and response effectively in a holistic way to avoid avoiding vulnerable children’s death from mal treatment. They can use examples of previous serious case reviews to improve their learning culture approaches, provide professionals with appropriate training and be more alert and responsive towards the needs of the children to recognise signs of abuse.

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