Isles (in Collins and Foley,2008) found that the group of practitioners is very wide and involves professionalsworking in various agencies from mandatory to voluntary; this included childand family health practitioners, early years workers and educationalists,teachers and teaching assistants, social workers, play workers, court advisory,family support workers, and many more. Authoritiesmay develop partnerships with other organisations including police, probationboards, NHS trusts, and youth offending teams (Children Act 2004, s. 31). Whenjoining together these services, issues of confidentiality and safeguarding canimpact the cooperation of all partnerships (Isles in Collins and Foley, 2008). Bachmannet al (2009) stated that poorco-ordination of services has severe consequences for children in care; theyalso discovered that while provision of multi-agency partnerships wasincreasing, the process was often found stressful by management. Stress cannegatively impact an individual’s tack performance, as well as strain workingrelationships (Zhang et al, 2013).
This could have consequences for management in children’s services asrelationships to team managers, as well as service users, is a key part of therole (Broadhurst et al, 2009). According to Anning et al (2010), the New Labour government,led by Tony Blair in 1997, were the first to acknowledge the interrelatednessof children and family needs across the areas of health, education, socialservices, law enforcement, housing, employment and family support. The aim ofjoining the services was to improve safeguarding, as well flexibility andefficiency of social work (Hill et al,2013). Frost and Robinson’s (2007) study on social workers and healthpractitioners found that there were still concerns regarding confidentialityand that not all departments were able to gain access to key files. Oneparticipant stated: ‘People in the team don’t understand my role, just as Idon’t understand their role because we don’t meet’ (Frost and Robinson, 2007:189). For the coordination of services to be a success, multi-agency teams needto act as one collective identity (Hill etal, 2013) and all agencies need to have a clear idea of the teams, theirroles and their responsibilities (Anning etal, 2010). On various local authoritywebsites (see staffordshire.gov.
uk; dudley.gov.uk; sandwell.gov.uk) thechildren’s services teams and agencies listed include the Central Referral UnitCRU, disabled children’s support, adolescent/youth team, fostering team,adoption team, quality and performance, early help team, child sexualexploitation CSE team, and more.
Featherstone et al (2014) looked into family support and early intervention, twoteams which provide help in order to keep the family together. They found thatthe introduction of services such as Sure Start and Children’s Centres were asuccess for family support and early intervention as the services offer helpfulnegotiation with the service users (Featherstone et al, 2014). Morris (2012) reports that policy changes andfinancial handouts have a lesser impact compared to these face-to-faceservices. However, Lonne et al (2009)point out that there can be imbalances in offering family support as sometimesthe interests of the child oppose the interest of the parents, for examplereligion can impact the decision for a child to receive certain life-savinghealth treatments (Smith, 2015). In such cases, management of family supportand early intervention teams lack the ability to find a balance which supportthe family’s rights and the child’s rights (Garrett, 2009). Stott (2013) looked into anotherchildren’s services team: leaving care support. This team provides help toyoung people that are turning eighteen, and are, therefore, in the process ofleaving local authority care (Stott, 2013).
The majority of care leavers moveto independent living aged 16-18 (Stein, 2006), and are expected to completetheir journey to adulthood far younger and far quicker than their peers whohave not been in care (Stein, 2005). Stein (2006) stated that, despite the useof leaving care support, those who havebeen in care are more likely to have fewer qualifications, be young parents, behomeless, and often have offending behaviour and mental health problems. Dixonand Stein (2005) also criticised leaving care support because there is nooption to return to the service in times of difficulty. However, Osterling andHines (2006) stated that adolescents viewed to have significant socialproblems, or mental health issues, are often moved up to adult services.
Albert et al (2017) stated that permanency planning is an important partof children’s services. Whittaker and Tracy (in Tracy, 2017) define permanencyplanning as the decision-making process to either keep families together,reunite children and families, or to find a permanent home for the childelsewhere. Permanency planning was initially viewed as one of the finalpathways (Besharov, 1992); other social service methods would be used beforepermanency planning was discussed. However, it is now seen as an innovativesystem which does improve the livelihoods of service users (Ayre and Preston-Shoot,2014). On the other hand, Whittaker and Tracy (in Tracy, 2017) point out thatthere is little follow up on service users, which can cause implications incommunication and cooperation with the service user.
Fernandez (2013) suggeststhat management should improve caseload sizes to ensure that communication withservice users is kept up-to-date, and so that service users are aware of whatdecisions are made. Maluccio (in Tracy, 2017) supports this, and states thatthe decision for permanency planning should be carried out adequately bymanagement, and that permanency supports a child’s growth and functioning.