1.1.1 Children's Services Policies, Values and Principles
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter provides the context for all procedures.
It contains the overarching policy for the provision of services to children and families. It also sets out underlying values and principles for recording, confidentiality and consultation.
This policy sets out the framework within which Children's Services work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:
- Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
- Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
- Care Standards Act 2000;
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child;
- Human Rights Act 1998;
- Adoption and Children Act 2002;
- Data Protection Act 1998.
The policy framework also has regard to and is consistent with a range of government guidance, particularly the principles set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013.
It is largely directed towards the work that Plymouth City Council Children's Social Care Department undertakes with Children in Need, children at risk of or suffering abuse, and children in care which is carried out in partnership with all other departments of the Local Authority and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.
This can be summarised under five key outcomes for children and young people:
All children and young people have the right to have their physical and mental health safeguarded and promoted. They also have the right to live a healthy lifestyle.
All children and young people have the right to be safe and secure, protected from harm and neglect, and to live in an environment that enables them to develop to their full physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social potential.
Enjoying and achieving
All children and young people have the right to the best possible education and training which meets their identified needs and equips them to live full adult lives. They also have the right to time and support to pursue appropriate leisure interests, especially children acting as young carers.
Making a positive contribution
All children and young people have the right to family life wherever possible and to be supported to take part in community life. They have the right to a continuity of care wherever possible and to develop and preserve their own identities. They also have a right to information and to make choices about their lives, having regard to their age and understanding. Through this they will be enabled to make a positive contribution to the community and to society.
All children have the right to live above the poverty threshold and to be equipped with the skills and knowledge that will help them overcome socio-economic disadvantage where necessary.
We are committed to working in partnership with children and their families, where a child is defined as being under 18 years of age. Our belief is that children are best looked after within their own families and within their local communities. Only when such support is not able to safeguard the child's needs will we provide further services.
Our values are rooted in the complete United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with particular regard to:
Article 2: Requires that no child is discriminated against. The Article mentions grounds such as disability, race, colour, sex, religion, national, ethnic or social origins, birth, property or other status.
Article 3: Requires that the welfare of the child is a primary consideration when decisions concerning a child are being made.
Article 6: Requires that we should do all we can to ensure that children survive and develop to their full potential.
Article 9: Children must not be separated from their parents unless it is in the best interests of the child (for example, if a parent is hurting a child). Children whose parents have separated have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child.
Article 12: Requires that children must be consulted on all matters of concern to them and that their views must be given due weight in accordance with maturity.
Article 16: Every child has the right to privacy and we should protect the child's private, family and home life, unless it is against the best interests of the child (for example, if a parent is hurting a child).
Article 19: requires that we ensure that children are protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and bad treatment by their parents or anyone else who looks after them.
Article 23: Requires that we provide support to disabled children. A child with a disability has the right to live a full and decent life with dignity and independence, and to play an active part in the community.
Article 30: requires that we ensure that every child has the right to learn and use the language, customs and religion of their family, whether or not these are shared by the majority of the people in the country where they live.The Values of our social workers, the managers and practitioners of Plymouth City Council Children's Social Care services are in accordance with the Standards of Proficiency and associated guidance published by the Health and Care Professions Council 2012 with whom they are registered.
Consideration of children's welfare and best interests will always be at the centre of the work that is undertaken.
Children's Social Care will work to ensure the above outcomes by working to maintain children within their own families, and facilitating services to support this arrangement, wherever this is possible and consistent with the child's safety and well-being.
Where a child cannot be cared for within his or her immediate family, strenuous efforts will be made to identify potential carers within the wider kinship network of the child who are able and willing to care for the child.
If continuing care within his/her family is not possible, every effort will be made to identify suitable alternative carers, reflecting the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background wherever possible and appropriate. Suitable local placements will be identified to achieve educational and social continuity.
Children's Social Care will ensure that children who are looked after are placed in approved placements, suitable to meet their needs and that, wherever possible, siblings are placed together. For younger children, they will be placed in a family placement unless there are sound assessed reasons why residential care is the preferred option.
Children's Services Social Care will ensure that permanence plans are made for all looked after children within 4 months of their becoming looked after and enacted as quickly as possible. If a young person remains in care we will ensure that they are supported when they leave care at least until they are 21, to give them a positive start to independent living.Children, their parents and other significant adults, will be consulted about plans for their care and these plans will be subject to independent review. Children's Social Care will also consult about the services it provides and ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard.
The strategy for Children's Services is to harness government policy and funding streams to improve performance, so that we can work with other agencies to ensure better outcomes for every child and his or her family through cost effective systems, structures and partnerships - through targeting services to prevent most children from becoming children in need, whilst concentrating specialist services on children at risk of harm to give them the best possible life chances.