Beneath the Threshold
The aim of the programme was to support the children, young people and families voluntary and community sector (CYP & F VCS) across the region, through the provision of training, resources, networks and briefings. The gathering of data for Beneath the Threshold took place over a five month period between May and December 2016. This consisted of an online survey, targeted interviews and a cross-sector focus group across London.
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.