A quarter of neglected children at crisis point before getting help in Norfolk

A quarter of neglected children at crisis point before getting help in Norfolk

Published by Grace Marner
6:00am 16th November 2019.

More than a quarter of neglected and abused children in Norfolk are already at risk of significant harm by the time social services step in.

That's according to figures from the Department of Education.

The Local Government Association has warned that "huge increases" in demand across England have outpaced funding, putting vulnerable youngsters and their families at risk.

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The latest Department for Education statistics show 8,294 children were judged to be in need of support after being referred to the council's social services in 2018-19.

Of these, 27% were made the subject of a child protection enquiry, which the British Association of Social Workers says indicates a juvenile is at crisis point.

This was up from 17% when records began in 2009-10.

Mental health was the most common concern for children referred to social services, mentioned in 70% of assessments, followed by domestic violence, which featured in 55%.

Social workers may record more than one factor during an assessment.

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Families of youngsters in need may simply be given advice or referred to services that can help, such as counselling or after-school clubs.

When social workers suspect a child is suffering or is at risk of harm they will make what is known as a Section 47 enquiry, to determine if they need to intervene.

If they conclude the child is at risk, they must then decide whether to put a protection plan in place.

In Norfolk, 18% of vulnerable children were under protection plans during 2018-19, compared to 13% nine years earlier.

By law, the measures must be reviewed within three months, and once every six months after that.

But reviews were not carried out in time for 13% of the area's 432 youngsters subject to a plan for longer than three months.

A government spokesperson said:

"We are working to strengthen families and tackle the causes of need – from mental health and addiction to domestic abuse. We are also providing an extra £1 billion for local councils to deliver social care.

"We are also cracking down on exploitation of young people by criminal gangs and supporting councils in their duty to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, alongside providing more investment in mental health support."

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