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Child protection legislation in the UK now provides a for foundation for a system of child protection
Childrens Act 1989Edit
The initial framework was provided principally by the Children Act 1989, which sets out the powers and responsibilities of local authorities, and the means by which they can safeguard children and promote their welfare and protect them from child abuse.
Childrens Act 2004Edit
The Children Act 2004 places a statutory duty on key people and bodies, including health, to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, to carry out their functions with regard to the safety and welfare of children, and to co-operate with other agencies through local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs).
The legislation places a duty of every local authority to safeguard and promote the *welfare of children within their area who are in need. This is defined so:
- they are unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services
- their health is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of services
- they are disabled.
If the local authority believes that a child may be in need they can carry out an assessment (usually with the agreement of the parents) to identify the support and help required. The assessment should cover:
- the child's developmental needs
- the capacity of the parent or carer to respond to the child's developmental needs, including the need to keep the child safe from harm
- the impact of wider family and environmental factors.
Health and educational professionals have an important contribution to make to this assessment, particularly in relation to the assessment of the child's health and their physical, emotional and behavioural development.
The government has issued statutory guidance under both of the above Acts. Of these, you should be aware of Working Together to Safeguard Children (2006) and What to do if you're worried a child is being abused (2006). In addition, LSCBs produce procedures on child protection for their locality, which apply to staff in all agencies.
For health professionals, the UK National Service Framework for Children and Young People and Maternity Services deals specifically with safeguarding and promoting children's welfare and The Child Health Promotion Programme (CHPP):Pregnancy and the first five years of life (2008) builds on the children's National Service Framework regarding preventative services.