More children at risk of neglect or abuse
AN UNPRECEDENTED high number of children in Swindon are at serious risk of neglect, abuse or significant harm.
Figures revealed in the Children’s Trust Board Performance Report for 2012 to 2013 show that in June this year 161 young people were put on protection plans, compared to 110 for the year before – nearly a 50 per cent increase.
Children placed under this protection are at serious risk of neglect, abuse or significant harm. The plans create an intensive support package to ensure children see doctors regularly, get to school safely and have someone to talk to.
Sara Tough, head of children and family services for Swindon Borough Council, said the rise in the number of plans was a result of the authority introducing new ways of working to identify children at risk earlier.
She said: “We have improved the way practitioners share information with each other. This allows us to identify children at risk of harm earlier and make sure that they have the right support. That, by its very nature, identifies more children at harm. I would say the figures are good, they show we are reaching more children. There has been a change in people’s circumstances. I wouldn’t have the evidence to say which welfare change led to a direct impact on child protection but without a doubt there has been a change in the community for some families.”
Nationally, Swindon’s record of children at serious risk of harm is below average.
The report also stated that Swindon’s 100 per cent record of carrying out reviews of children put on plans dropped to 90 per cent, which placed the borough in the bottom group nationally for 2012 to 2013.
Figures for the beginning of this year show the authority has climbed back up to 98 per cent.
Sara said around £400,000 has been invested in changing the approach towards supporting families involved with plans, which has led to improvements to the system Around 50,000 children live in Swindon and of this only around 0.01 per cent are on protection plans.
A Swindon Children’s Trust Board meeting is taking place today at the Civic Offices at 4pm.
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