The Safeguarding, Care and Quality Assurance team consists of Independent Reviewing Officers for Children Looked After, Child Protection Chairs (CP chairs) and Children’s Advocacy service.
In Somerset, Independent Reviewing Officers and Child Protection chairs are referred to as ISROs (Independent Safeguarding Reviewing Officers). ISROs and advocates are committed to achieving the best outcomes for all children and young people in Somerset. They do this through participation, support, review and challenge.
Our service covers
- Chairing of Children’s Child Protection Conferences and Independent review of Child Protection planning for children
- Chairing review meetings and independent review of planning for Children Looked After
- Advocating for children’s rights
- Independent advocates for children
- Independent Visitors for Children Looked After
- Attendance at relevant meetings to support good planning for children
- Advice and guidance to children, parents, carers and professionals
- Facilitating multi-agency child protection safeguarding training
- Facilitating advocacy training to children’s advocates and Independent Visitors
Our vision and values
Our vision is to promote, and support child centred, high quality SW practice, that ensures the best possible outcomes for children.
We will achieve this by
- building and maintaining positive working relationships with children, families and other professionals
- the rigorous scrutiny of practice and care planning
- promoting best practice through positive feedback and challenge
As a team, we will make the best use of resources and technology for maximum impact and value.
In all aspects of our work, we will promote and adhere to the following values
- We will put the child at the centre of what we do
- We will support parents to take responsibly for their future and the future of their children
- We will take our role as corporate parents seriously
- We will work with our children in care as though they are our own, and constantly ask ‘Would this be good enough for my child?’
- We will at all times act with professional generosity to our colleagues within Children’s Social Care, and to our external partners
- We will share our knowledge and experience freely
- We will be honest with colleagues and each other about the quality of social work practice that we encounter
All our Practice Standards are underpinned by a value base which promotes care and respect for children, young people, families and colleagues. We keep the child at the centre of what we do, continually asking ourselves and others, ‘Would this be good enough for my child?’.
What is a Child Protection Conference?
A Child Protection Conference is not about taking children away from their parents.
A child protection conference is a meeting that is held when a social worker, or a teacher, or a health visitor, or a nurse, or the police, or any other professional who knows a child, believes the child to be at risk of significant harm. They may feel that extra support is needed for the child and family to ensure the child’s safety.
The meeting will be chaired by someone called a child protection chair. Their job is to make sure that any decisions reached, or plans made at the child protection conference is done fairly and that everyone, including the child, has a chance to have their say.
The purpose of the conference is to make sure that everyone fully understands the worries for the child and is clear about the things that are going well.
Who will attend this meeting?
Children who have some understanding of the worries are able to attend their meeting if they want to. If children want to come to their meeting, they will be able to attend for some or all of the meeting. It is important that people know how children and young people feel about what is happening in their life. Children and Young people will be offered an advocate who will meet with them to understand their views and who will attend the conference on their behalf or with them.
Parents and carers who look after the children will come to the conference. Anyone involved in a child’s care will be invited.
Any people working with the child and family will be invited. Professionals such as the police and GP will also be invited even if they have not directly worked with the child or family.
What happens at the meeting?
Before the meeting starts, the child protection chair will meet the young person if they attend and will meet with parents or carers. The Child protection chair will go through how the conference will be run.
You can ask any questions that you may have about the meeting and let the child protection chair know if there is any way in which they can support you, to make sure that you can attend and take part in all of the meeting.
All the information shared at the meeting will be recorded on a whiteboard. This is what will be recorded on the whiteboard:
- What we are worried about now, including the impact on the child
- Complicating Factors
- What’s going well
- Signs of Safety
- What needs to happen – The Plan
The meeting will decide what needs to happen to keep the children safe.
What happens after the meeting?
After the meeting, regular meetings with Children’s Social Care will take place to look at any other help that may be needed for the child and their family.
The child’s social worker and the child protection chair will explain the purpose of these meetings and agree the dates with you and other professionals at the end of the conference.
Route1 Advocacy – Child Protection and Children Looked After
Advocates can help any child age 4 years and above to share their wishes and feelings at any meeting concerning child protection.
The advocates role is to enable and empower children and young people to have a voice when meetings are taking place concerning their care.
The advocate is independent of children services and they can only present the child’s or young person’s views.
They have no say in any decision making.
Advocates will listen carefully and make sure that people who make decisions about the child or young person’s life listen to what the child or young person have to say.
Advocates work for children and young people and no-one else.
Route1 offers advocacy services to all children and young people who are involved with Somerset Children Services. Its purpose is to enable and empower children and young people to have a voice and participate within any decision-making processes.
Route1 work to ensure that the rights of children and young people receiving services from Somerset Children’s Services are upheld in accordance with the Children Act 1989, Children Leaving Care Act 2000, The Care standards Act 2001, The Adoption and Children Act 2002, Children Act 2004, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1991 and the Human Rights Act 1998.
Advocacy services apply to:
- Initial Child Protection conferences
- Child Protection reviews
- Child in Need meetings
- Core group meetings
- Children Looked After reviews
- Disruption meetings
- Transfer conferences
- Family Group conferences
- Advice and assistance
Your social worker should ask you whether an advocate is required or you can email Route1advocacy@somerset.gov.uk or phone 01749 822801
Find out more about Route1 Advocacy
Mind of My Own – Better care and support happens when children are better listened to
Independent reviewing officers’ handbook: young people’s guide