Hampton Ward Newsletter. October 2017
One of the most important roles undertaken by Herefordshire Council is the safeguarding of our ‘looked after children’ and elected Councillors share the collective responsibility for ensuring these children are safeguarded with the best possible outcomes for them.
There are currently over 300 children in the care of Herefordshire Council and during this time we become the child’s legal ‘corporate parents’. We also look after children from other areas, usually due to their extended family circumstances and we maintain reciprocal arrangements with other local authorities.
Children and young people can remain in our care until the age of 18, but if they continue on to further education or university, they can remain our responsibility up until the age of 25 – as would you with your children.
The operational structure within the Council starts with the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) who do exactly what it says on the tin. They liaise with various agencies, including the police and social services and will take immediate action to secure the safety of any child or young person who comes to their notice and are the first point of contact for Councillors, or the public if it’s suspected that a child is at risk of harm, or is in immediate danger.
They in turn will be overseen by the Herefordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board (HSCB) with the top tier being HM Inspectorate, better known as Ofsted.
These agencies will work closely with families to ultimately help children return to their family homes, but in cases where this is not possible or appropriate, the child can be placed under the ‘special guardianship’ of a relative, or in long or short-term foster care, or ultimately by permanent adoption.
The need for child protection can take many forms and will include the risk of significant harm from general neglect, emotional abuse and physical or sexual assaults, either within the immediate family group, or from outside.
An increasing number of children have become victims of physical or sexual abuse in recent years, but it’s been agreed that this may reflect a greater awareness of abuse following the publicity given by the media to a number of disturbing criminal cases involving the sexual exploitation of children by organised gangs, rather than an increase in this activity.
If, for whatever reason you believe a child may be at risk, or is the victim of abuse of any kind, either within the family or elsewhere, please do not hesitate to contact Herefordshire MASH, either by phone: 01432 260800, or on-line: www.herefordshire.gov.uk/MASH. These calls will all be treated in the strictest confidence. Failing that, please feel free to contact me at any time for help or advice.
Cllr Bruce Baker