‘Working together to safeguard children’ (2018) is statutory guidance setting out the legislative requirements placed on individual services and also a framework for the three local safeguarding partners (the local authority, a clinical commissioning group for any area falling within the local authority and the chief officer of police for a police area falling within the local authority area) to make arrangements to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of local children and respond to their needs.
The guidance is clear that local authorities, with their safeguarding partners, should develop and publish local protocols for assessment, which should set out clear arrangements for how cases will be managed once a child is referred into local authority children’s social care, consistent with the requirements in the statutory guidance.
While all organisations and agencies have a responsibility to understand their local protocol, it is the local authority which is publicly accountable for this protocol. The complaints procedure for children and families who wish to challenge the assessment protocol should be published as part of the protocol.
Ofsted inspections are concerned with the direct experience of children and their families, and will assess how any protocols work in practice.
The department and Ofsted do not collect or hold data on whether local authorities have completed and implemented local protocols for assessment.