Further Issues to Explore
The research indicates that safeguarders have a clear view of their own role. Training of other stakeholders should seek to promote a similar shared, correct understanding of the safeguarder role as this will help to avoid unnecessary duplication of work and to prevent unproductive overlaps with other roles. The research also suggests a need for further work with safeguarders and panel members around appointment of safeguarders in relation to contact and residence. Panel members need to be realistic about issues on which a safeguarder can and should make recommendations; safeguarders may need specialist training (including skills) in these highly sensitive issues and clarity around the limits of contact related recommendations. Key questions remaining include how the balance is achieved between reporting on the child in the moment as the safeguarder observes him/her and the effect of changing contact arrangements on his /her longer-term wellbeing.
Further work is also suggested on drawing together safeguarders' underlying skills and qualifications (with which they enter the role) and the baseline competencies in which they are all trained, to ensure that these are deployed to maximise the benefits which can be achieved from both. The way in which safeguarders work within the court room during proof and appeal proceedings may benefit from further exploration, not just with more sheriffs, reporters and solicitors than this study could reach, but also with safeguarders as to how they can be trained and assisted to fulfil the specific role that is required of them within a legal context. Finally, research with children and families who have been involved with safeguarders should be considered around all of the issues covered in this project since their views on the role of the safeguarder are a hugely important part of the test of its value.