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1.2 Underlying Principles and Values


This chapter was updated in May 2014 to include a new Section 2, Values.


  1. Introduction
  2. Values
  3. Principles Underpinning Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

1. Introduction

"The support and protection of children cannot be achieved by a single agency. Every service has to play its part. All staff must have placed upon them the clear expectation that their primary responsibility is to the child and his or her family."

Lord Laming (Victoria Climbié Inquiry Report, 2003)

1.1 There are some key features of effective arrangements to protect and safeguard children which all agencies will need to take into account. These arrangements will help agencies to create and maintain an organisational culture and ethos that reflects the importance of Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children

At an organisational or strategic level, these key features are identified as having:

  • Senior management commitment to the importance of safeguarding and promoting children's welfare;
  • A clear statement of the agency's responsibilities towards children available for all staff;
  • A clear line of accountability within the organisation for work on Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children;
  • Service development that takes account of the need to safeguard and promote welfare and which is informed, where appropriate, by the views of children and families;
  • Staff training on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children for all staff working with or (depending on the agency's primary functions) in contact with children and families;
  • Safe recruitment procedures in place;
  • Effective inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • Effective information sharing.

2. Values

Statement: Working together to keep our children and young people safe and protected from harm.


Services are inclusive where difference is respected and mutual respect exists between organisations and professionals protecting children.


Services are delivered in partnership and are child focused, empathising with the feelings of children, young people and families, through the creation of a safe environment in which concerns can be shared. 


The child’s or young person’s voice is heard, their experience understood and responsibility taken to act in their best interests.


There is a thirst for knowledge, analysing, understanding, challenging and sharing information appropriately and never missing out on an opportunity to find out more about the child or young person’s experience.


Decisions are made openly, consistently and lawfully, always in the best interests of the child, young person or family and that any discretion is used appropriately. 


High quality services are delivered with integrity by a competent and knowledgeable team working in partnership to keep children and young people safe.

3. Principles Underpinning Work to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

The following is taken from Working Together 2015.

3.1 The following principles, which draw on findings from research, underpin work with children and their families to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (see Paragraph 2.18 in the Statutory Guidance on Making Arrangements to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children Under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004, DfES 2007) (now archived). These principles should be followed when implementing the guidance set out in this chapter. They will be relevant to varying degrees depending on the functions and level of involvement of the organisation and the individual practitioner concerned.

Work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children should be:

  • Child centred

The child should be seen (alone when appropriate) by the Social Worker to ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings and to give due consideration to the child’s wishes and feelings having regard to their age and understanding, when determining what (if any) services to provide) in addition to all other professionals who have a responsibility for the child’s welfare. His or her 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;

  • 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;

  • Focused on outcomes for children

When working directly with a child, any plan developed for the child and their family or caregiver 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. The plan should set out the planned outcomes for the 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 that each child is unique. These outcomes should contribute to the key outcomes set out for all children in the Children Act 2004 (see Paragraph 1.1 of Working Together 2010, now archived);

  • Holistic in approach

Having a holistic approach means having an understanding of a child within the context of their family (parents or caregivers and the wider family) and of the educational setting, community and culture in which he or she is growing up. The interaction between the developmental needs of children, the capacities of parents or caregivers to respond appropriately to those needs, 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 services to the child and to the family members that respond to these needs. 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;

  • 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, 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;

  • Involving 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 caregivers feel respected and informed; they believe 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. The consent of children or their parents/caregivers, where appropriate, should be obtained for sharing information unless to do so would place a child at risk of suffering Significant Harm. Similarly, decisions should also be made with their agreement, whenever possible, unless to do so would place the child at risk of suffering significant harm;

  • 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;

  • 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;

  • 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;

  • 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;

  • 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 practitioner’s 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.