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ADCS past-president calls for Nice for children's services

The inaugural president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has called for the creation of an institute for excellence in children’s services to tackle long-standing problems with child protection practice.

Writing in the latest edition of CYP Now, John Freeman, ADCS president in 2007, the organisation's first year, said an institute focused on best practice in children’s services was the best way to improve the safeguarding of vulnerable children.

Freeman, former DCS in Dudley and now a freelance consultant, said he had come to conclusion after seeing little evidence that work over the past decade to improve children’s services has had “any lasting impact”.

He said: “I’ve come to the view that we need something like the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in the NHS, a National Institute for Children’s Services Excellence that would promote best practice, with professional authority and based on the evidence.

“This conclusion is driven by the recognition that nothing else has worked.”

Freeman’s comments come on the eve of this year’s National Children’s and Adults’ Services conference in Manchester, and comes at a time when local authorities' ability to improve struggling children’s services departments is under intense scrutiny. Earlier this month, ministers announced Slough Council would follow Doncaster to become the second authority to have children’s services hived off to an independent trust following a series of critical Ofsted inspections.

Reforms introduced over the past decade have failed to tackle the “unacceptably high” child death rate, Freeman adds, with communication problems among professionals a recurring theme in serious case reviews.

“We have recently seen calls for a national child death database so that learning can be shared,” Freeman said. “I argue, though, what’s needed is more than a database – we urgently need a dedicated national institute for children’s services excellence, working across agencies to identify strategic and tactical improvements.”

Story courtesy of Children & Young People Now

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