SCIE Report 6: Managing risks and minimising mistakes in services to children and families

By Dr Lisa Bostock, Sue Bairstow, Sheila Fish and Fiona Macleod

Published September 2005


Social workers must sometimes make very difficult judgements. Unfortunately, these judgements can sometimes lead to harmful consequences. Strangely though for such a vital industry, the social care sector only seeks to learn from these mistakes in the most tragic of circumstances - when a person is hurt, or worse, killed.

This report is about how organisations can learn from mistakes.


This report focuses specifically on reducing risk in services to children and families by identifying and learning from near misses in children's services. It aims to start a debate about the management of risk at an organisational level and to support the introduction of the Children Act 2004 in England and Wales and the development of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs).


The report is aimed at a wide group of people and organisations who seek to better understand why things go wrong, with a view to improving systems for managing risk. This includes social care workers and managers, policy makers, national regulatory organisations, educators and more.

Messages from the report

Key findings



Related Links

SCIE's resources on children's and families' services