Here are the recommendations in the report, and all certainly worth considering if not actually adopting.
Children’s lives in Southend-on-Sea: (A report by The Children’s Society) Recommendations
· Every child or teenager who goes missing or absent from home or care should be offered an independent return interview.
· Ask your Local Safeguarding Children Board to audit the safeguarding response that agencies provide to 16 and 17 year olds and review thresholds for intervention to ensure they do not discriminate against or fail to assess 16 and 17 year olds.
· Adopt an explicit policy that no child under 18 can be made ‘intentionally homeless’.
· Review the local homelessness protocol to ensure all children under 18 who present as homeless receive a joint assessment from housing and children’s services.
· Local authorities, as commissioners of supported accommodation for vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds, should ensure all these settings have effective safeguarding policies in place and are regularly scrutinised by the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
· Health and Well-Being Boards should ensure local Joint Strategic Needs Assessments explicitly include children and young people’s mental health and the needs of different vulnerable groups at risk of developing mental health problems, to assess current and future need and inform commissioning strategies.
· Local authorities – through Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs) – should review and monitor access to mental health support for children who have experienced abuse and trauma, ensure that such services are commissioned locally, and ensure that there are policies in place for priority access to services for all children who need it.
· All mental health services should have policies in place on transitions for young people from vulnerable groups between the levels of CAMHS services and to transition to adult services. This would ensure that children do not fall through the cracks of services and that they have continuous access to mental health support. Policies on transitions should outline how CAMHS will work with other agencies in planning transition.
· Prioritise resources raised through business rate growth for early intervention services, using local needs assessments and open consultation with local residents.
· Local authorities should ensure the systematic collection of data for separated children with non-asylum immigration claims.
· Local authorities should train social workers and Independent Reviewing Officers in the identification of children who are out of scope of legal aid and in how to best support their legal needs within this new and complex territory.
· Local authorities should develop written policies that offer clarity on the nature and scope of their responsibilities in relation to legal aid for separated children.
· Every local authority needs to have a welfare assistance scheme which does not exclude 16–17 year olds from support.
· Annually monitor the spending on local welfare provision to build up a profile of need in the area.
· Councils should exempt care leavers from paying council tax up to the age of 21.
· Every local authority should have a debt collection strategy which includes measures to address the impact of collection on children.
· Councils should not engage bailiffs for collecting council tax debt from families who are in receipt of Council Tax Support and have children.
· Local authorities should use community hubs as locations to deliver outreach debt advice and fuel poverty work, to ensure hard to reach families are able to access this service and support.
· Local authorities should advertise and promote the Warm Home Discount – a rebate of £140 on electricity bills for the most vulnerable – in services that families access, such as children’s centres.
· Local authorities need to consider the impact of changes to disability benefits under UC on families.
· The loss of the SDP is likely to be particularly severe. There will be a need to reconsider support services in light of this.
· Local authorities have a key role to play in ensuring that families with children that need Alternative Payment Arrangements under Universal Credit are able to receive them.
· Local authorities need to consider access to online provision of UC for local families – particularly for those requiring regular updates to claims, such as parents with childcare costs.