Essex Safeguarding Children Board – Key messages from Board meetings

The Essex Safeguarding Children Board (ESCB) meets 4 times a year. In these meetings the Board - which is made up of different agencies - discusses matters that affect children young people and their families in order to find ways of better protecting them from harm. It does not discuss individual cases but rather overarching themes.

Here, we want to share with you some of the key themes discussed at each meeting.

June 2018

Child Sexual Exploitation

The Board agreed support for a wider remit of a Southend, Essex and Thurrock (SET) Child Exploitation Strategic Group to incorporate the work around criminal exploitation and gangs (focusing on violence and vulnerability) as well as the existing activity on CSE.

Working Together

The new Working Together to Safeguarding Children was published after the Executive meeting had taken place. The commitment made at the SET Summit held in April was that we anticipated there would be some aspects of the changes that must be made under the guidance which would be SET wide, and others that are more local. The Business Managers from the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Boards are currently working on a draft plan for the new partnership arrangements required by the new legislation and guidance. It was agreed that each area would have separate partnerships broadly similar to the existing Board arrangement but that where possible joint work would be strengthened and this would be reflected in the plans for each Board. A further Summit will be held in the autumn with the three key agencies across SET i.e. police, health and local authority agreeing the final plans.

The Child Death Review process will be reviewed when new guidance for this is released.

We are required to notify a national panel when we intend to carry out a Case Review, and they will now make a decision as to whether they feel it is a case of national significance. If so, the panel will appoint a lead reviewer and also fund the review. For cases that aren’t of national significance, we have a local review process in place that will be adapted in line with the new legislative requirements.

Thematic Review of Teenage Suicides

A learning event took place in June, put together by commissioners from Essex County Council (ECC) and mental health services supported by the ESCB, to consider some of the learning from the review of suicides in Essex as well as broader themes around mental health and wellbeing. There is a coordinating group led by ECC, tasked with implementing the suicide strategy across Southend, Essex and Thurrock. Part of this work involves training, which the ESCB and ESAB Learning and Development Sub-Committee will support. Campaign work around World Suicide Prevention Day will take place in September, in conjunction with partner organisations.

September 2017

Tackling Neglect of Children and Young People

Members of the Executive recognised the importance of continuing to tackle neglect of children and young people. The ESCB has published on its website Neglect Multi-Agency Practice Guidance for those working with children, young people and families in Essex.

Child Deaths in Essex

The Board also received a report on instances of child deaths in Essex, especially those linked to unsafe sleeping arrangements. Work to promote the importance of safe sleeping for babies continues with an awareness campaign.

Working Together Draft

The revised draft Working Together is expected to be published for consultation this month. This will be shared with partner agencies for comment and then be brought back for further discussion as appropriate at the next Executive meeting in December.

Learning and Development

A summary was provided of learning and development activities over the past year, the positive impact of these, and also initiatives moving forward including joint work with other Boards. A self assessment of learning and development has also been sent to all partner agencies to complete to further inform the learning and development programme for 2018 and ensure that the views of all agencies are taken into consideration when identifying future activities.

June 2017

Homeless or Displaced Families

The Board received information and discussed the impact and action being taken about homeless or displaced families being moved into Essex from London Boroughs. It was noted that arrangements are already in hand for information to be exchanged when children are subject to child Protection Plans, but getting appropriate information when children are only ‘in need’ or families are potentially struggling is much more challenging.

This was geared to bringing all partners up to date on the situation but one action from the discussion is that the Children’s Partnership Board has been asked to look at using school data to monitor children moving into, out of and around Essex. This will hopefully give partners the opportunity to see how any trends are impacting on their services.

Early Help Assessments

The meeting discussed early help assessment processes. It was felt that far more assessment processes were taking place than were being recorded and so members agreed to take the information back to their organisations to discuss how assessments were taking place and recorded.

It was agreed that following the re-launch of the Board’s Effective Support document, partners would reinvigorate their efforts to record when they have carried out assessments so that a full picture can be gained.  Without this, it is difficult for the Board to assess where needs are greatest and to target its work appropriately.

New Board Structure

This was the final meeting of the Board in its current structure and a discussion took place to finalise the new ways of working. In future, a Strategic Executive, four Stay Safe Groups, sub-groups addressing particular themes and a large Essex-wide ESCB Assembly will carry out the business of the Board.

Over a number of years we have had excellent support for children’s safeguarding and we intend to build on this with the new structure and an even greater focus on supporting operational safeguarding.

March 2017

Supporting Care Leavers in Essex

A report on Care Leavers in Essex revealed how they face a number of difficulties, including coping with a tenancy and the risk of homelessness for a number of these young people.

On a national level, forthcoming Government legislation means councils will take on more responsibility to help prevent homelessness and in Essex, funding has already been received to help tackle the issue.

How care leavers can be provided with further support and what the Board can do to help ease the difficulties they face will be discussed at the June meeting. 

Home Education

The Board was briefed on some of the procedures that must be followed when parents decide to home educate a child and how any concerns are addressed. 

There are approximately 1000 children being home educated in Essex. Parents of these children are invited to attend workshops to inform them of correct procedures which include the following:

  • When a parent decides to home educate a child, they must write to the school to advise them of their decision
  • If there are concerns, parent/s will always receive a letter in the first instance, outlining what they must adhere to when home educating their child

Governance Review

In light of the Children and Social Work Bill and the removal of the statutory footing for Local Safeguarding Children Boards, the Board in Essex is looking at how it can make changes to further improve the way it works to help keep children and young people safe.

Proposals for avoiding duplication of work and better engagement with local areas were agreed in principle; a plan of how this can be achieved will be discussed at the next meeting in June.

December 2016

Addressing Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) within Essex

An update was presented to the Board on progress made to tackle CSE in Essex. 

This included information from research on Missing Children, showing that there is an increased risk of children who are not in school getting drawn into crime or anti-social behaviour and they are more at risk of exploitation.

The Board will therefore continue its work on understanding exploitation, including gathering the views of children and young people to help inform plans for support. 

We will also re-launch the award-winning “I Didn’t Know” CSE campaign in March 2017. 

Inspired by a video project created by the Essex Children in Care Council, this campaign was set up in 2016 between Southend, Essex and Thurrock Safeguarding Children Boards and Essex Police. It aims to raise awareness about CSE as well as support communities in recognising it, and knowing what to do to get support.

Tackling child sexual exploitation requires a commitment by everyone. To find out about the campaign and where to get advice, please visit the CSE pages on our website.

Safer Sleeping Campaign

The Board agreed to continue a publicity campaign to raise awareness of safer sleeping to reduce the  number of child deaths occurring each  year.

 A successful campaign across Facebook and Twitter took place over the Christmas season, with  agencies and members of the public joining together in a short space of time to share #YearofSaferSleep messages. This reached over 450,000 people.

To access downloadable tips on safer sleeping habits please look at our safer sleeping pages  on our website.

ESCB Strategic Planning

One of the ways the Board works is to have a plan in which we list the areas we want to focus on over the coming year. This enables us to put in place actions to tackle any issues that may affect the safety of children and young people. 

We agreed that some of these areas for the coming year would include:

  • Young people’s mental health and wellbeing
  • Online safety
  • Child Sexual exploitation, gangs and bullying