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Children 'let down' by care service

Vulnerable children are being let down in "too many" cases by professionals who do not ask them for their views and fail to listen to the concerns of other adults, including grandparents, about their care, a watchdog has warned.

Ofsted said a study of serious case reviews (SCRs) had shown too many children were not seen frequently enough by professionals.

Agencies were also found to have failed to listen to adults who tried to speak on behalf of the child and who had important information to contribute.

Serious case reviews are carried out by local safeguarding children boards when a child dies or abuse or neglect is known or suspected.

The report analysed 67 SCRs evaluated by Ofsted between April 1 and September 30 last year, of which 65 concerned 93 children, 39 of whom died and 54 were involved in serious incidents. The remaining two cases focused on adult perpetrators.

Some of the reviews found the child was not seen by the professionals involved or was not seen frequently enough, and in some cases, even where the child was seen, they were not asked about their views and feelings.

The tendency by agencies to overlook the role of fathers, male partners and other men living within families was also a "common theme" in the reviews, the report said. In many instances, the concern related to the risk posed by the men, but in other cases the men had information that agencies would have found helpful.

In four of the cases, lessons were learnt about the failure of agencies to recognise the role of grandparents in representing the voice of the child, Ofsted said.

One or more of the grandparents in each of these cases reported concerns about the care of grandchildren but this did not lead to "effective" action to prevent the serious incident, Ofsted said.

In one case a grandmother had contacted social care on a number of occasions alleging sexual and physical abuse of children by their stepfather. She had also written to the director of social services, Ofsted said, but this did not trigger child protection procedures and it was not until more than a decade later that disclosures were made by the eldest children in the family revealing the long-standing abuse that had taken place.


From Belfast Telegraph