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1.2 Underlying Policy, Principles and Values

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Last reviewed in October 2021

Date of next review October 2022


Safeguarding and Promoting Children's Welfare


Throughout this manual, safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children's mental and physical health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in the circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

All professionals across Sussex play a role in ensuring children have optimum life chances to enter adulthood successfully.


Children may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their day-to-day lives. These threats can take a variety of different forms, including: sexual, physical and emotional abuse; neglect; domestic abuse, including controlling or coercive behaviour; exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups; trafficking; online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. Whatever the form of abuse or neglect, practitioners should put the needs of children first when determining what action to take.

Child Protection


Child protection is part of safeguarding and promoting welfare. This refers to the activity that is undertaken to protect specific children who are suffering or at risk of suffering Significant Harm.


Effective child protection is essential as part of wider work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. However, all agencies and individuals should aim pro actively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children so that the need for action to protect children from harm is reduced.


Professionals in all agencies and organisations (including public services, commissioned provider services and voluntary organisations; whether paid or a volunteer) who come into contact with children, who work with adult parents/carers or who gain knowledge about children through working with adults, should:

  • be alert to potential indicators of abuse or neglect
  • be aware that mental health problems can be an indicator that a child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • be alert to the risks which individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children
  • be alert to the impact on the child of any concerns of abuse or maltreatment
  • be able to gather and analyse information as part of an assessment of the child’s needs.

Multi-agency training will be important in supporting this collective understanding of local need and the services available to support children and young people. Practitioners working in both universal services and specialist services have a responsibility to identify the symptoms and triggers of abuse and neglect, to share that information and provide children with the help they need. To be effective, practitioners need to continue to develop their knowledge and skills in this area and be aware of the new and emerging threats, including online abuse, grooming, sexual exploitation and radicalisation. Practitioners should also continue to develop their understanding of domestic abuse, which includes controlling and coercive behaviour from perpetrators of domestic abuse, and the impact this has on children. To enable this, the three safeguarding partners should consider what training is needed locally and how they will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of any training they commission.


The effects of language used in safeguarding and child protection

The language used in safeguarding and child protection is so important. It is important that professionals take the time to reflect on the language they use and the impact this might have on those around them.

Different agencies and professions have different ways of understanding and describing needs and thus a complex range of terminology and acronyms are often used. If this terminology is not explained, it can mean that other professionals and the people and families at the centre of safeguarding work, feel disempowered and excluded, which in turn, may harm partnership working and ultimately affect outcomes and wellbeing.

'Why language matters' is a series exploring the language used in safeguarding and child protection, how this affects the actions and perspectives of those who work with children, and what we can all do to place the child front-and-centre in the words we use. Why language matters: digging deeper than "did not attend" | NSPCC Learning

Shared Beliefs


The needs of the child are paramount and should underpin all child protection work and resolve any conflict of interests.


All children deserve the opportunity to achieve their full potential.


All children have the right to be safeguarded from harm and exploitation whatever their:

  • Race, religion, first language or ethnicity;
  • Gender (including gender identity) or sexuality;
  • Age;
  • Health or disability;
  • Location or placement;
  • Any criminal behaviour;
  • Political or immigration status.



Responsibility for the protection of children must be shared because children are safeguarded only when all relevant agencies and individuals accept responsibility and co-operate with one another.


Statements about, or allegations of abuse, or neglect made by children, must always be taken seriously.


The wishes and feelings of children are vital elements in assessing risk and formulating protection plans, and must always be sought and given weight according to the level of understanding of the child.


During enquiries, the involvement and support of those who have parental responsibility for, or regular care of a child, should be encouraged and facilitated, unless doing so compromises that enquiry or the child's immediate or long term welfare.


Practitioners should be aware that to facilitate social inclusion and equality of potential outcome, they should take all reasonable steps to support parents and children who have experienced any form of prejudice. This stance needs to be incorporated into planning, delivering, monitoring or providing training about child protection services.

Cultural competency


Culturally competent practice acknowledges and aims to understand the meaning of cultural identity within each individual’s and family’s lives. Cultural competence is being responsive to the beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of children and families.  It places children's wellbeing and protection within their cultural context and, by being culturally competent, practitioners can better identify which aspects of the family's difficulties are 'cultural', which are neglectful, and which are a combination of factors.


'Knowledge and understanding of culture and faith is critical to effective assessments of harm through neglect and/or abuse. However, culture and faith should not be used as an excuse to abuse and must never take precedence over children's rights'  Safeguarding Children's Rights Special Initiative: Final Evaluation Report (Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London Centre for Social Work Research, 2011)


Where there is a cultural explanation given in relation to significant harm, The Children Act 1989 is clear that the welfare of the child is paramount and should remain the focus of any professional intervention. Whilst an understanding of cultural context is necessary, this should not get in the way of measures to protect the child from significant harm.

The following framework comprises six competencies for professionals, which seek to assist the professional to be clear about the risks from neglect and/or abuse to a child wellbeing Six competencies for effective safeguarding - cultural competency

 Please also refer to Safeguarding children from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic communities | NSPCC Learning


The Sussex Safeguarding Children Partnerships condemns racism in all its forms.  The partnerships recognise the importance of their multi-agency safeguarding system being fundamentally anti-racist.  Only through the eradication of systemic racism, discrimination and injustice will we be able to effectively safeguard Black children and those from other marginalised ethnic groups.

Gender Identity


Gender identity is a way to describe whether someone feels most aligned with girl, boy, neither, both or without gender at all. Some children and young people are very clear on what their gender identity is and for others it may change over time through a period of exploration. These children may be trans, non-binary or gender exploring.


When children experience discomfort or uncertainty about their gender identity this can have a detrimental impact on their physical and emotional health and wellbeing as can the prejudice, discrimination and misunderstanding they may be subject to by both children and adults.


Safeguarding the mental & physical health of children and young people is paramount. Some trans, non-binary and gender exploring children and young people may be particularly vulnerable and require additional support.  Whilst being trans, non-binary or gender exploring would not generally, in isolation, necessitate safeguarding intervention, neither should it be a barrier to such intervention.

Children who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans (LGBT+)


The fact that a child or a young person may be LGBT is not in itself an inherent risk factor for harm. However, children who are LGBT can be targeted by other children. In some cases, a child who is perceived by other children to be LGBT (whether they are or not) can be just as vulnerable as children who identify as LGBT. 


Risks can be compounded where children who are LGBT lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open. It is therefore vital that professionals endeavour to reduce the additional barriers faced, and provide a safe space for them to speak out or share their concers. 

Principles Underpinning all Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children


The safeguarding partners and all managers, employees, professionals, volunteers, carers, independent contractors and service providers must ensure that their practice reflects an approach which is:

  1. Child-centred

    The child should be seen (alone when appropriate) by the Lead Social Worker in addition to all other professionals who have a responsibility for the child's welfare. Their welfare should be kept sharply in focus in all work with the child and family. The significance of seeing and observing the child cannot be overstated. The child should be spoken and listened to, and their wishes and feelings ascertained, taken into account (having regard to their age and understanding) and recorded when making decisions about the provision of services. Some of the worst failures of the system have occurred when professionals have lost sight of the child and concentrated instead on their relationship with the adults.

  2. Rooted in child development

    Those working with children should have a detailed understanding of child development and how the quality of the care they are receiving can have an impact on their health and development. They should recognise that as children grow, they continue to develop their skills and abilities. Each stage, from infancy through middle years to adolescence, lays the foundation for more complex development. Plans and interventions to safeguard and promote the child's welfare should be based on a clear assessment of the child's developmental progress and the difficulties the child may be experiencing. Planned action should also be timely and appropriate for the child's age and stage of development.

  3. Focused on outcomes for children

    When working directly with a child, any plan developed for the child and their family or care giver should be based on an assessment of the child's developmental needs and the parents/caregivers' capacity to respond to these needs within their family and environmental context. This plan should set out the planned outcomes for each child, progress against these should be regularly reviewed and the actual outcomes should be recorded.

    The purpose of all interventions should be to achieve the best possible outcomes for each child recognising each is unique. These outcomes should contribute to the key outcomes set out for all children set out in the Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017:
    • Stay safe;
    • Be healthy;
    • Enjoy and achieve;
    • Make a positive contribution;
    • Achieve economic wellbeing.

  4. Holistic in approach

    Having an holistic approach means having an understanding of a child within the context of the child's family (parents or care givers and the wider family) and of the educational setting, community and culture in which they are growing up. The interaction between the developmental needs of children, the capacities of parents or care givers to respond appropriately to those needs and the impact of wider family and environmental factors on children and on parenting capacity requires careful exploration during an assessment.

    The ultimate aim is to understand the child's developmental needs and the capacity of the parents or caregivers to meet them and to provide appropriate services to the child and to the family which respond to those needs. The analysis of the child's situation will inform planning and action in order to secure the best outcomes for the child, and will inform the subsequent review of the effectiveness of actions taken and services provided. The child's context will be even more complex when they are living away from home and looked after by adults who do not have parental responsibility for them.

  5. Ensuring equality of opportunity

    Equality of opportunity means that all children have the opportunity to achieve the best possible developmental outcomes, regardless of their gender (including gender identity) ability, race, ethnicity, circumstances or age. Some vulnerable children may have been particularly disadvantaged in their access to important opportunities, and their health and educational needs will require particular attention in order to optimise their current welfare as well as their long-term outcomes into adulthood.

  6. Involvement of children and families

    In the process of finding out what is happening to a child it is important to listen to the child, develop a therapeutic relationship with the child and through this gain an understanding of his or her wishes and feelings. The importance of developing a co-operative working relationship is emphasised, so that parents or care givers feel respected and informed, they believe agency staff are being open and honest with them, and in turn they are confident about providing vital information about their child, themselves and their circumstances. See also Information Sharing and Confidentiality.

  7. Building on strengths as well as identifying difficulties

    Identifying both strengths (including resilience and protective factors) and difficulties (including vulnerabilities and risk factors) within the child, his or her family and the context in which they are living is important, as is considering how these factors are having an impact on the child's health and development. Too often it has been found that a deficit model of working with families predominates in practice, and ignores crucial areas of success and effectiveness within the family on which to base interventions.

    Working with a child or family's strengths becomes an important part of a plan to resolve difficulties.

  8. Integrated in approach

    From birth, there will be a variety of different agencies and services in the community involved with children and their development, particularly in relation to their health and education. Multi and inter-agency work to safeguard and promote children's welfare starts as soon as it has been identified that the child or the family members have additional needs requiring support/services beyond universal services, not just when there are questions about possible harm.

  9. A continuing process not an event

    Understanding what is happening to a vulnerable child within the context of his or her family and the local community, and taking appropriate action are continuing and interactive processes and not single events. Assessment should continue throughout a period of intervention, and intervention may start at the beginning of an assessment.

  10. Providing and reviewing services

    Action and services should be provided according to the identified needs of the child and family in parallel with assessment where necessary. It is not necessary to await completion of the assessment process. Immediate and practical needs should be addressed alongside more complex and longer term ones. The impact of service provision on a child's developmental progress should be reviewed at regular intervals.

  11. Informed by evidence

    Effective practice with children and families requires sound professional judgements which are underpinned by a rigorous evidence base, and draw on the practitioners knowledge and experience. Decisions based on these judgements should be kept under review, and take full account of any new information obtained during the course of work with the child and family.

Working in Partnership with Children and Families


Work in partnership with families must be based on the following principles:

  • Treat all family members with dignity and respect and offer a caring and courteous service;
  • Enable all family members to participate in the assessment process, regardless of race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation or ability;
  • Ensure family members know the child's safety and welfare has priority;
  • Minimise infringement of privacy consistent with protecting the child;
  • Be clear about powers and purpose of any intervention;
  • Be aware of the impact on the family of professional actions;
  • Respect confidentiality and pass on information and/or observations about the family only with permission or to protect the child;
  • Listen to and try to understand the concerns, wishes and feelings of the child and family before formulating explanations and plans;
  • Learn about the child's religious, cultural, community and familial context;
  • Consider strengths, potential and limitations of family members;
  • Ensure all family members know their responsibilities and rights with respect to receipt or refusal of services and its consequences;
  • Use simple jargon-free language appropriate to age and culture of each individual;
  • Be open and honest about concerns and professionals' responsibilities, plans and limitations;
  • Allow individuals time to absorb professional concerns and processes;
  • Distinguish between personal feelings, values, prejudices and beliefs, and professional roles and responsibilities and seek and use supervision to check achievement of this;
  • Always acknowledge errors, failures or oversights and the distress caused to families;
  • Give explicit consideration to the potential conflict between family members and the possible need for children or adults to speak without other family members present;
  • Children and young people should be consulted and kept informed about what is to happen to them;
  • Children's welfare must be safeguarded by prompt, positive and pro-active attention.

Six key practice themes to make a difference in reducing serious harm and preventing child deaths caused by abuse or neglect.


The annual report from the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (May 2021) has highlighted six key practice themes to make a difference in reducing serious harm and preventing child deaths caused by abuse or neglect. The annual report can be read here - Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel - GOV.UK ( 

  • Understanding what the child’s daily life is like
  • Working with families where their engagement is reluctant and sporadic
  • Critical thinking and challenge
  • Responding to changing risk and need
  • Sharing information in a timely and appropriate way
  • Organisational leadership and culture for good outcomes

Case Recording


The following is intended to ensure the security of children's case records and the integrity of the information that they contain.


Good quality case recording is essential in ensuring:

  • Continuity of service to children and families when staff are unavailable or change, or when a service resumes after a period of time;
  • Effective risk management practices to safeguard the well-being of children, especially in emergency situations;
  • Effective partnerships between staff, children, their families, their carers, other agencies and service providers;
  • Clarity of information for everyone involved in the planning and delivery of services, and in the event of investigations, inquiries, or audits;
  • Adequate information for staff and managers to ensure the best possible utilisation of available resources;
  • As a means by which to ensure accountability and adherence to procedures and statutory responsibilities;
  • Details of good quality observations of the child and care givers.

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This page is correct as printed on Friday 12th of August 2022 04:18:33 AM please refer back to this website ( for updates.