140,000 children face abuse or neglect risk
August 14, 2017 4 comments
As many as 140,000 children could miss out on support after being abused or neglected as a result of cuts to local authorities.
Many councils now do not have the financial resources to intervene every time they receive reports of vulnerable children from teachers, police or doctors, according to recently published figures. Charity Action for Children obtained this data through Freedom of Information requests to 152 local authorities across the country.
The group found that 184,500 cases where children were referred to social services were closed because they did not qualify for intervention from the council. However just one in four of the families involved in these cases were offered any kind of further support, such as domestic violence programmes or access to a children’s centre. These services are important because abuse and neglect can get worse without outside help. Therefore children who have been referred to local authorities because someone was concerned about their wellbeing could be in danger even if, at their first assessment, they did not meet the threshold for help. The charity estimates that as many as 140,000 children could go without support and be potentially subjected to further harm as a result.
Talking to The Independent, Action for Children Chief Executive Tony Hawkhead explained that the some of these referrals are made as “teachers are noticing they’re hungry at school”. This could be a sign that there is abuse taking place in the child’s home but “in the definition of the threshold they aren’t seen to be sufficiently in need, meaning they don’t get help” he said.
Many of these children may be referred again if signs of trouble become more obvious but, Hawkhead continued, by then intervention would be far more expensive and difficult.
“All the evidence we have shows that the earlier we can provide support, the more valuable the help will be and the better it is for the family and wider society.”
Last week, the Local Government Association warned that council-run children’s services were at “breaking point” due to a rise in the number of children in need of help and a drop in funding. Nationwide, local authorities had overspent their budgets by £605 million.
Photo by Sarah-Rose via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.
August 14, 2017
Categories: Family Life