Quality statement 2: Consistent support

Quality statement

Children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect receive support from a consistent group of practitioners.

Rationale

Working with the same practitioners over time enables children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect to gain trust and build better relationships. It also protects them from being re-traumatised by having to re-tell their experiences. Consistency equally helps the practitioners to get to know the child and the broader family context that they live in. It also helps them to work more effectively with other agencies involved with that family to protect children and young people from further harm.

Quality measures

Structure

a) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect receive support from a consistent group of practitioners.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, audit of service specification, protocols or practice.

b) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that practitioners supporting children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect work closely with other agencies involved in supporting the children and young people and their families.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, audit of service specification, protocols or communication between agencies.

Process

a) Proportion of children and young people supported by social workers because of their experience of abuse or neglect who had a change of social worker in the past 12 months.

Numerator – the number in the denominator who had a change of social worker in the past 12 months.

Denominator – the number of children and young people supported by a social worker because of their experience of abuse or neglect.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, audit of children's social care records. The National Audit Office is currently piloting Stability index for children in care which requires data submission by the local authorities on changes to a social worker.

b) Proportion of children and young people supported by mental health practitioners because of their experience of abuse or neglect who had a change of practitioner in the past 12 months.

Numerator – the number in the denominator who had a change of practitioner in the past 12 months.

Denominator – the number of children and young people supported by a mental health practitioner because of their experience of abuse or neglect.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, audit of child and adolescent mental health services records.

Outcome

Experience of care and support received by children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Data source: Local data collection, for example, feedback from children and young people supported by children's services.

What the quality statement means for different audiences

Service providers (such as schools, social services, sexual health services, drug and alcohol services, child and adolescent mental health services, youth offending services and primary and secondary care services) ensure that staff turnover and use of agency workers is minimised and that staff have an opportunity to build meaningful relationships by working with the same children and young people over time. They also ensure they have arrangements with other agencies involved with the children, young people and their families so that they can provide holistic support. This may include appointing a lead practitioner who can take responsibility for coordinating the services and interventions needed to support the child.

Practitioners (such as teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, specialist drug services professionals, health visitors, GPs, community nurses, youth workers, police and probation officers) ensure that they build meaningful relationships with children and young people. They also ensure they share information and build relationships with other practitioners working with that family and organise handovers if new staff members from their agency become involved.

Commissioners (such as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and NHS England) commission services in which children, young people and practitioners experience stability in the services and relationships that are offered to them. They also ensure that they make arrangements to work with partners locally, to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children and young people in their area. This may be achieved by ensuring the role of a lead practitioner who can take responsibility for coordinating the services and interventions needed to support the child is part of the service.

Children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect have opportunities to build stable, trusting relationships with practitioners who get to know them and their needs well.

Source guidance

Child abuse and neglect (2017) NICE guideline NG76, recommendations 1.6.1 and 1.8.1

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect

Includes those assessed as 'in need', likely to suffer significant harm or suffering significant harm.

[NICE's guideline on child abuse and neglect, section 1.6]

Equality and diversity considerations

Children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect may find building relationships with practitioners difficult as a result of communication difficulties. This could be because they are very young (pre-verbal stage) or because of disability or speech or language problems. Practitioners who work with these children should identify the support they need to engage with them in a meaningful way. This may include involving interpreters, or asking nursery staff or speech and language therapists for support with interactions.

Children and young people who are in temporary accommodation and move between placements are likely to experience more instability. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the transfer of records and follow-up appointments are timely. Commissioners and service providers should prioritise continuity among practitioners supporting children and young people with additional needs.