From the head of Capita’s children’s services comes this deeply worrying piece in Children Now:
It is Monday morning. A primary school teacher glances around the groups of children waiting to file in. A child with a black eye and other bruises raises her concern. The immediate dilemma is to decide what to do now. Are the bruises the result of boisterous play or something more worrying?
From the end of 2008, teachers and other key workers, such as police and health workers, will be able to raise an eCAF – the online version of the Common Assessment Framework.
Any child at risk can be highlighted through the completion of a standardised electronic form, and then prioritised for follow up. The aim is that all services in contact with a child can access information on them and contribute to the assessment of their needs.
A practitioner who suspects abuse shouldn’t be completing an eCAF at all! The procedures are clear that a practitioner should be talking urgently to the child protection lead in their own school or agency witha view to referring onwards for social care investigation under s47 of the Children Act 1989.
It’s yet more evidence that assessment of children’s welfare needs is becoming dangerously confused with child protection investigation , which is something entirely different. Abuse involves a possible crime committed against a child and is nothing at all to do with ‘needs’ – the only need is that the situation is dealt with by a specialist.