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Children: Social Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN 125337, tabled on 18 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of access to (a) legal advice and (b) independent specialist advice after a non-emergency child protection enquiries is made.

Answered on

28 February 2022

Local authorities are responsible for assessments under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to determine whether a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm. They should be led by a local authority social worker with input from the safeguarding partners and other agencies.

The statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ is clear that the child should be at the centre of safeguarding activities, and that practitioners should work in partnership with the child and their families when making decisions about their lives. The guidance also sets out how section 47 enquiries and child protection conferences should be conducted. It makes clear that the social worker should ensure that the child and their parents understand the purpose of the conference, who will attend and prepare the child, particularly if they are attending or making representations through a third party. As part of this, the social worker should give information about advocacy agencies and explain that the family may bring an advocate, friend or supporter. The statutory guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2.