Every Child Matters policy, published in 2003, set out the proposals for reforming children’s services in order to improve the outcomes for all children and young people. This important policy introduced a new level of cooperation amongst distinct types of professionals who can offer support to children who are not following the expected pattern of development.
This agenda aims to unite all professionals who work close with a child or a young person, implementing, promoting and monitoring children’s development in order to establish development’ progress. Having records help identifying when development is not following expected patterns and enables to intervene effectively.
A systematic cooperation amongst parents, carers and guardians makes sure children’s development is supported at home and in the school setting. This multi-agency working is now the main focus of all professionals who work with children and young people.
Services in the setting and outside the setting include:
• The SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator): in an educational setting the SENCO is the person who gives support to children and families with special educational needs and is also responsible for the identification of the special needs.
• Additional learning support professionals work within and outside schools providing a range of services to help children who have certain specific educational needs. These might include people like teaching assistants or advisors who provide support and training.
• Social workers provide support to help vulnerable children, young people and their families. They have a statutory duty to protect children and have the power to remove children from unsafe settings and move them into a safe place of care. In other words, social workers help children to feel safe and this may not be a simple matter: there are multiple issues that must be taken into consideration: emotional sensitivity, resilience, intuitive thought and rigorous analysis. These are the skills that should be possess by every good child protection social worker. Social services have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children and young adults and can provide a wide range of services to children and their parents, usually within the home environment with the support provided by a social worker.
• Educational Psychologists (EP) are professionals who help supporting children with learning or behavioural difficulties. They perform specific assessments and once they have identified their needs, provide teachers and early years practitioners with different programmes aimed to aid vulnerable children.
• Psychiatrists may also work with children and their families. They are specialised doctors who are trained in mental health problems and work alongside other professionals to help diagnosing or supporting children and vulnerable young people with identified mental health issues.
• Physiotherapists help children with their movements and physical coordination, especially those who have little or no movement. These professionals are trained to get the maximum movement and skill level in children with physical issues.
• A specialist school nurse can provide support for children and their families, especially when children are suffering from adverse medical conditions that need a special care. Often schools have their allocated school nurses who perform various functions including advising on common health conditions.
• Health visitors give a type of support very similar to that one is provided by school nurses. They usually work with babies and children under age 5 advising their parents and carers, measuring and assessing the children’s development.
• Youth offending team officers work with children and young adults with behavioural problems. These professionals cooperate with social workers in order to help them. They supervise young offenders, support their welfare needs and prevent them from drug and alcohol misuse. They carry out risk assessments and plan how to manage future risk of reoffending. These workers also prepare reports for the courts before sentencing and define action plans to support young offenders. These professionals also help young offenders into education, work or training, and encourage them to take part in constructive positive activities.
• Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) work with parents and primary carers in order to assess if a child has speech or language difficulties, communication or eating and drinking difficulties. The therapist will consider the difficulties the child has and the impact these will have on his/her life. By helping children to reach their full communication potential, they help them to reinforce their confidence and self-esteem.