Vulnerable Children are trapped in a Revolving Door due to a lack of Support, so says a report from the Watford-based charity Action for Children, claiming that up to 140,000 young people may be affected. They are children who are repeatedly referred to social services because of issues such as domestic abuse, parental mental health, or neglect, but who fail to meet the requirements laid down for statutory social care provision. The Department of Education`s own research reveals that over 50% of those referred to children`s services in 2010-11, for example by concerned teachers or doctors, were re-referred at least once by 2016.
In 2016 over 570,000 assessments of children`s needs were made, resulting in 400,000 active cases being referred for assessment. The remaining children are left in limbo, as their situations are not deemed “serious” enough to warrant further action from social services whilst they remain clearly vulnerable and in need of support.
While there are record numbers of children in need of help, at the same time Local Authority budgets are under ever-increasing pressure. The Local Government Association estimates that by 2020 there will be a £2billion funding gap in the amount available to support vulnerable children, with a 71% reduction in funds compared with 2010. Already we have seen the closure of 156 Sure Start centres in 2015, and there are serious threats in other areas such as respite care for disabled children and teenage pregnancy support initiatives.
The recently-introduced Children and Social Work Act 2017 has done much to bring together the working practices of the three main agencies involved in children`s welfare – Health, Education and Local Authorities – so that they act together rather than in isolation. However, Action for Children believes that more needs to be done to protect those children who still are still not eligible for statutory support. Government attempts to keep control of spending are to be praised, but the failure to identify and support vulnerable children is simply storing up problems for the future.
As Chief Executive Sir Tony Hawkhead says in the report: “The Government must take action now to tackle the root causes of child abuse, neglect and disadvantage – not just the symptoms.”
To read the Action for Children report in full go to: https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/media/9363/revolving-door-report-final.pdf
See also Children and Social Work Act 2017: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2017/16/contents/enacted
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