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17. Local authorities are bound by some 200 statutory duties covering education and children’s social care. The way in which the roles and responsibilities of the DCS and LMCS are fulfilled will vary between different places and change over time. This guidance does not attempt to cover all these duties in detail but the key aspects of those roles are outlined below.
18. The DCS and LMCS work together to provide strong, strategic local leadership and development of an increasingly autonomous and diverse education and children’s services sector. Working with headteachers, school governors and academy sponsors and principals, the DCS and LMCS should support the drive for high educational standards for all children and young people, paying particular attention to the most disadvantaged groups. They should also ensure that children's services are integrated across the council, for example to support a smooth transition from children’s to adults’ services. The DCS and LMCS should involve and listen to parents, carers, children and young people. The DCS and LMCS have a key role in ensuring that the local voluntary and community sector, charities, social enterprises, the private sector and children and young people themselves are included in the scope of local authority planning, commissioning and delivery of children’s services where appropriate.
19. Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on local authorities and certain named partners (including health) to cooperate to improve children’s wellbeing. The DCS and LMCS must lead, promote and create opportunities for cooperation with local partners (for example, health, police, schools, housing services, early years, youth justice, probation, higher and further education, and employers) to improve the wellbeing of children and young people. Local authorities must also (by virtue of the Child Poverty Act 20101) establish local cooperation arrangements to reduce child poverty, prepare and publish a local child poverty needs assessment, and prepare a local child poverty strategy.
20. As a statutory member of local health and wellbeing boards, the DCS will have a clear role in driving the development of the local joint strategic needs assessment (JSNA) and joint health and wellbeing strategy. The DCS will promote the interests of children, young people and their families. The DCS will also help join up local commissioning plans for clinical and public health services with children’s social care and education, where appropriate, to address the identified local needs through the JSNA and joint health and wellbeing strategy. The DCS will make a key contribution to ensuring effective working relationships between the health and wellbeing board and the LSCB. The DCS is responsible for any agreements made under section 75 of the National Health Service (NHS) Act 2006 between the local authority and NHS relating to children and young people – for example, pooled budgets for commissioning and/or delivering integrated services covering children’s health, social care and education.
21. Local authorities must comply with the duties set out in the Equality Act 2010, which means that, as well as ensuring that they do not discriminate unlawfully, DCSs and LMCSs must take into account the likely impact of their policies and decisions on specified groups. In doing so, particular consideration should be given to Article 2 of the UNCRC. Local authorities should also maintain an audit trail to demonstrate how equalities matters were considered as part of the decision-making process.
22. Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 requires local authorities and other named statutory partners to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are discharged with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. There is a similar requirement imposed on schools2. This should ensure that safeguarding is integral to all that local authorities, schools and other named partners do. The DCS and LMCS should ensure that there are clear and effective arrangements to protect children and young people from harm (including those attending independent schools). Local authorities are also required to set up a LSCB to coordinate the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in that area.
23. The DCS should always be a member of the LSCB and will be held to account for the effective working of the LSCB by their chief executive, including where the LSCB has an independent chair. The LMCS should be a 'participating observer' of the LSCB; they may engage in discussions but not be part of the decision making process in order to provide the LMCS with the independence to challenge the DCS (and others) when necessary. The DCS also has a crucial role in ensuring collaboration and dialogue with the family courts so that high quality local authority assessments and other evidence contribute to effective and timely court processes for children.
24. DCSs and LMCSs will not be in regulated activity in relation to children just by virtue of undertaking those posts3. The Government will publish detailed information about workplace safeguarding in good time for commencement of the new Vetting and Barring Scheme arrangements.
25. Local authorities should work with partners to promote prevention and early intervention and offer early help so that emerging problems are dealt with before they become more serious. This will help to improve educational attainment, narrow the gaps for the most disadvantaged and promote the wider wellbeing of children and young people, including at key transition points.
26. More specifically, the DCS and LMCS in their respective roles:
1Although the local authority duties under the Child Poverty Act 2010 are not included in the section 18(2) definition of functions for which the DCS/LMCS are automatically responsible, local authorities may nonetheless consider it appropriate to assign them to the DCS/LMCS.
2In accordance with section 175 of the Education Act 2002 if they are maintained or the Independent School Standards set out pursuant to section 157 of that Act if they are independent schools, including academies or Free Schools.
3Subject to passage of the Protection of Freedoms Bill.
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