Voluntary sector perspectives on child safeguarding in London

Behind the financial picture of a steady whittling away of resources across children and young people’s services, many charities and statutory teams have had to wrestle internally with the management dilemmas of how to adapt: whether to increase the numbers of caseloads held by practitioners (and therefore reduce time and quality of intervention); to introduce waiting lists or triage systems for prioritising levels of service demand they can’t meet; or to re-define and target their service altogether on a narrower group of needs or specialist focus.

It is in this context of trying to understand what financial austerity pressures actually mean for day-to-day practice in VCS organisations that we decided to undertake this study and gather views from the sector. Effective safeguarding arrangements rely on local agencies working together: to be alert and aware in identifying children’s needs and possible risk of harm; to refer concerns and needs on to other services that can help whenever needed (eg Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services or child protection); and to have an up-to-date level of skills, training and awareness among their own staff and volunteers. We wanted to understand how inter-agency safeguarding practices were faring in the face of so much change to organisations and councils. We also wanted to understand the extent to which child protection referral ‘thresholds’ had been raised in practice in order to manage increased demand on children’s services, and what kind of role VCS organisations were being expected, or left, to serve for children and families who do not reach that threshold.


 Download the full PDF of Beneath the Threshold


Beneath the Threshold builds on the work undertaken by Children England’s Perfect Storms, and also Partnership for Young London’s Commissioning Snapshot: Reviewing commissioning of youth services across London.

We hope to be able to extend the reach of the Beneath the Threshold work to England's other regions and are currently seeking funding to do so.