A survey released today by NSPCC and Community Care shows that increased pressures on social services mean that children who are neglected or at risk of neglect are unlikely to receive timely support. The findings show that almost 60% of professionals believe it is ‘quite’ or ‘very’ unlikely that local social services would take swift action to protect children who were being neglected. For emotional abuse the figure rose to 72%.
This is in stark contrast to physical and sexual abuse cases where over 90% of professionals said timely action was likely to be taken. The Government must put more effort into ensuring that children are also protected against neglect.
Government cuts have resulted in increased stress on social services, leaving social workers to deal with rising caseloads and having to raise thresholds for referral in neglect cases. This means that neglected children are less likely to receive the care they need before it is too late.
I fully support the British Association of Social Workers’ calls for more legal advice about how best to collate and present evidence in neglect cases and there needs to be further training on the signs of neglect and the long-term damage. The Government promised to “develop a social work system that provides high quality services from social workers that are well supported, and in whom the public feels confident” but it is clear their inability to follow up on this commitment is putting vulnerable children at further risk.