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The Munro Review of Child Protection

Can we get it right this time?

The independent Munro Review of Child Protection was published on 10 May 2011. Announcing this, the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme said:

The report was written by Professor Eileen Munro, who was asked by the government to examine ways of cutting bureaucracy to give social workers more time with children.

Professor Eileen Munro says:

For too long child protection has been shaped by the outcry that follows high-profile cases, like the murder of Victoria Climbie and the death of Baby Peter. It has become a defensive system, concentrating on procedures rather than whether life is improving for children. She wants to scrap timescales for when meetings and reports have to be completed, giving local authorities more responsibility for working in a timely way to protect children and freeing social workers to use their professional judgement.

William Tate, Director of the Institute, has been working closely with Professor Munro throughout the near year-long review process and advising on leadership aspects and implementation implications (e.g. see pages 106-107 of the final report for some comments on the role of leadership). Upon the report’s publication, he says:

The changes recommended by Professor Munro’s Review are highly significant for children and families, and for the organisations that have a practical and legal safeguarding responsibility.

The Review amounts to a culture change affecting how the organisations’ human systems need to work differently in future, and how organisational learning and professional judgement must replace compliance with government-imposed rules and procedures. This presents a significant challenge to local authority children service departments, for the wider system of arrangements with partner organisations, and for inspection regimes and training.

Professor Munro’s recommended changes can happen only through skilled, thoughtful and sensitive leadership that reflects on and adapts its own style, moving from a command-and-control model (as Professor Munro puts it) to one that is itself consistent with and models the new workplace culture, especially in how it helps introduce change.

The government has announced that it will be working with many professionals to develop its response to the Munro recommendations this summer.

Click on the links in the next column for further information and advice.

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