Neglected children must be better protected
26 Mar 2014 01:01 PM
More must be done to identify and respond
effectively to neglect at the earliest stages so that the most vulnerable
children in our society do not remain too long in families where they come to
harm, a new report from Ofsted says today.
inspectorate is calling for all local authorities and local safeguarding
children boards to improve their understanding of the extent of neglect in
their local area and to develop shared strategies to prioritise action. The
report also recommends that social work training is improved to increase
professional understanding of the impact of neglect on children’s
Today’s report, 'In the child’s time:
Professional responses to neglect' draws on evidence from local
authorities, their statutory partners and the views of parents and
Whilst in some areas professionals are working well
together to protect and support children who experience neglect, the report
finds that overall the quality of professional practice is too
inspection found inconsistent approaches to assessing neglect, with children
being left for too long in harmful situations in nearly half of the long term
cases examined. Failures to take repeat incidents and family histories into
account, and prioritising the needs of vulnerable adults over children were
central to poor practice. In these cases, management oversight of risk and
decisions was not good enough.
Ofsted Director for Social Care says:
'It is widely accepted that neglect can have a
devastating impact on the life chances of children and young people, and as
recent high profile cases have shown, at its very worst, can be
'Some children live with serious and complicated
difficulties in their families, and we need to examine what we can and should
be doing to stop neglect far earlier in their lives.
'Absolutely vital to this is ensuring all social
care practitioners are able to recognise the impact that neglect has on
children, as well as being properly supported by skilled and experienced
managers who are able to advise on help and intervention before the damage
Many of the social care professionals interviewed were
not offered in-depth training in recognising the signs of neglect, or given
ready access to best practice. Although the report highlights examples of
positive work to tackle the problem, it finds that innovation and case studies
of timely, effective responses are not being shared widely across the
report also exposes a lack of understanding from LCSBs about the extent of
neglect in their area, with some having no clear picture of the number of
children in families where neglect may be a risk factor, or processes in place
to monitor whether interventions for neglect were working.
some cases, professionals found it difficult to engage parents in child
protection work - lack of or feigned compliance with child
protection plans caused significant delays in over a third of the long term
Some professionals also lacked the confidence to
challenge both parents and other practitioners where child protection plans
were not progressing or meeting children’s needs.
Debbie Jones concludes:
'Social care professionals have a tough job to do.
The pressure of increased workloads and the scrutiny on child protection means
that dealing with this challenging area effectively can be extremely
'Despite this, it is clear that some children are
not getting the help they need. LCSBs and local authorities must work to
develop their understanding of neglect and to make sure that they are tackling
this robustly and without compromise.'
Notes to editors
2013, Charity Action for Children called on the Government to commission Ofsted
to undertake a thematic review of child neglect and early
thematic inspection was carried out across 11 Local Authorities, and draws on
evidence from 124 cases and from the views of parents, carers and professionals
from the local
authority and partner agencies.
- Debbie Jones will be available for pre-recorded
interviews on Tuesday 25th March between 1600 – 1830, and for live
interviews between 0700 – 0800 on Wednesday 26th March. Please contact
the press office to arrange.
- Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000
130415 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm
Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty
press officer can be reached on 07919 057359
Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted)
regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young
people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and
inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children
and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges,
initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and
education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses
council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after
children, safeguarding and child protection.