The Appointment of Safeguarders in the Children's Hearings System : Research Report and Action Plan

Gadda, Andressa and Hill, Malcolm and Young, Emma and Welch, Vicki (2015) The Appointment of Safeguarders in the Children's Hearings System : Research Report and Action Plan. [Report]

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Safeguarders may be appointed by children’s hearings or courts in cases where it is thought necessary in the interests of the child. Their primary role is to make an independent assessment of what plans and arrangements are in the child’s best interests and to provide a report based on that assessment to assist decision-making. Since the introduction of safeguarders to the hearings system three decades ago, they have made a valued contribution. Some concerns were voiced by a number of local authority professionals to the CELCIS Permanence and Care team (PaCT) in 2013 about safeguarder appointments in relation to the permanence process. These included stated views that, in some cases, involvement of safeguarders may lead to ‘unnecessary delays’ and hamper the timely placement of looked after children with a permanent family. The present study was carried out by the PaCT researcher to explore this further, to assessreasons for the appointment of safeguarders by the hearings and to examine the impact of their involvement on subsequent decisions about recommendations by panel members1 . Whilst the research emanated from concerns about the permanence process, it explored perceptions of strengths and concerns in relation to the appointment and practice of safeguarders more generally. The study took place at a time of significant changes to the way in which safeguarders are recruited, trained, appointed and managed with the introduction of new Regulations and the creation of a national Safeguarders Panel.


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