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Dismay at risks to vulnerable children

Thursday July 12th, 2018

The safety of vulnerable children and teenagers is at risk because of the “wildly” varying quality of social care – and underfunding, according to a hard-hitting report.

Children are getting different levels of support depending where they live – and some find their support suddenly disappears because of changes in local policy, according to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children.

Many children who have grown up in care – and are among the nation’s most vulnerable teenagers – feel “bewilderment” because they cannot even access their personal histories, MPs report.

Children who self-harm may not get help unless they are seen at immediate risk of suicide, the report says.

The findings led the group chair, former Conservative children’s minister Tim Loughton, to say: “It is the woeful underfunding by Government of a proper breadth of social care interventions that is to blame.”

He added: “In some places, the pressure on children’s services is so acute it is leaving social workers feeling that the only tool available to them to keep a child safe is to remove them from their family. As a result, families may look at these skilled and caring professionals with mistrust.”

Dr Alison Steele, the child protection officer of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "This report shines a light on what can only be described as a dismal, unfair and unsafe situation for children.

"It is completely unacceptable that a child’s postcode determines the level of support they receive and how soon they receive it.”

She added: “A reduction in public health budgets has reduced support for families living in poverty and is preventing them from receiving important help. Health visitors play a crucial role in identifying families who are struggling with poor mental health, breastfeeding, smoking cessation and nutrition. Amongst other things, health visitors also monitor child development and provide information and advice on support services for families most in need.

“Without investment in early help and preventative services, we are going to see more children entering the child protection system and a dismal situation could turn into a dire one."

Tags: Child Health | UK News

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