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DevonChildren and Families Procedures Manual

Children's Services Values and Principles


This chapter provides the context for all procedures.

It contains the overarching values and principles for the provision of services to children and families.

This chapter was added to the manual in October 2017.


  1. Introduction
  2. Our Vision
  3. Our Principles
  4. Our Practice Standards

1. Introduction


(written by the Stand up Speak up Children in Care Council)

Working to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in Devon

This section sets out the framework within which Children's Services work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:

  • Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
  • Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Care Standards Act 2000;
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child;
  • Human Rights Act 1998;
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005;
  • Data Protection Act 1984;
  • Human Rights Act 1998.
  • Children and Families Act 2014;
  • Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The framework also has regard to and is consistent with a range of government guidance, particularly the principles set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.

It is largely directed towards the work that Children's Services undertakes with Children in Need, children in need of protection and Looked After Children; which is carried out in partnership with all sectors of the Local Authority and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.

2. Our Vision

Our Vision for children's social care in Devon is to have a service which:

  • Thinks child, thinks family, thinks community;
  • Has safeguarding children as its core priority;
  • Maximises the life chances of children, young people and their families;
  • Sees good practice as standard practice;
  • Provides an effective multi-agency social care response which is centred around the child and links appropriately with education and health care services;
  • Is dynamic and has capability, capacity and flexibility to respond to the needs of children and their families in the most appropriate and effective way;
  • Provides a supportive environment to all staff to create a confident and resilient workforce;
  • Maximises the time spent by frontline staff to work directly with children and families;
  • Reflects the diversity of children and communities in Devon.

Key Outcomes


Higher Expectations, High Challenge and Closer Scrutiny for our Children:

“Childrens' Social care is characterised by complexity, risk, and the responsibility for making decisions that can change the course of a child's life”… (Ofsted raising standards improving lives 2013: p4).

Devon aims to drive forward changes which focus on the actions that make a difference to the experiences of children and their families.

Because we make life changing decisions on behalf of children we have to be doubly sure that our decisions will make a positive difference to each and every child and family we serve. Therefore, we have to have high expectations of ourselves and others, high aspirations for our children and the commitment to pursue the changes that will improve the lives of the children on whose behalf we work.

Our decisions on behalf of children and families should be fully explored, robustly challenged at all levels and evidenced. Any change for a child should be reflective, mulled over, shared and robustly and constructively challenged at every point of their journey. The underlying question will always be “What difference is this making, does it give this baby, this child, this young person the opportunity to have value added to their life?''

We are setting an ambitious standard for the lives of our most vulnerable children and young people in Devon. We must remember at all times that we have a collective responsibility with our key agencies, voluntary and professional bodies to set and work to the highest possible standards also set the standard.

These procedures are designed to ensure that robust decision making with challenge is a normal acceptable culture in Devon's Childrens' Services We need to keep children at the forefront of our practice; to view and analyse their situation so that we can respond to it and improve their lives. By sharing the responsibility, sharing professional opinion and learning from each other – we will be able to create a safe and healthy professional tension. Decisions and discussion should also be mindful of cost and the potential for creativity and flexibility.

Think Permanence: Permanence is a term that describes the way a child needs to feel about where they live and with whom. For a child to thrive physically, emotionally and intellectually, they need the security of belonging and of receiving consistent, reliable care from one or more particular adults.

3. Our Principles

Our principles are informed by, and support the vision statements in the Children and Young People's Plan and those developed by young people with disabilities and their families. They underpin any work with children and families across the Devon Children and Families Partnership;

Children are best brought up in families, with local, place based support when needed. Where children can't be brought up in their birth family, timely permanent arrangements for them will be secured.

We will support families to find their own solutions, building on their strengths and finding solutions to whatever difficulties they are confronting to be resilient, improve family life and increase opportunities for their children. Children who need protection will receive it and, wherever possible, early help will prevent the need for statutory intervention in family life.

We will listen to each other, and work together and services will be shaped by all (children, young people and families, providers and commissioners). We will work in partnership and collaborate to meet the diverse needs of Devon's children and families, always focused on improving outcomes and life chances. Together we will manage risk confidently.

Children and families will always know where they stand with us. We won't give up on children and families and will listen, actively encouraging two way communication and seeking feedback. We will be clear and fair about what may need to change and what support families can expect.

4. Our Practice Standards

These are the rules that describe the (minimum) service or practice, that can be expected by every service user. Most of them are legally set through government guidance and legislation, or are based on evidence based research. They are mandatory[VC1].