Authorities take positive steps to tackle child neglect

Barnsley Town Hall
Barnsley Town Hall
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Increasing numbers of children are being identified as victims of neglect at home as a result of more focused work by the authorities, councillors are to be told.

There has been a rise of a third in numbers of youngsters made subject of a child protection order in Barnsley as a result of the changes and the council is also increasingly likely to cite neglect as a primary issue when they launch care proceedings to help safeguard children at risk.

The developments are a result of increased work in the town to identify cases where neglect is an issue and then to take steps to counter the potential damage children involved could face.

It has meant 400 professionals working in the sector being trained in identifying the degree of neglect suffered by children in their contact.

Neglect is recognised as a key issue in Barnsley and a programme called Neglect Matters was introduced recently as the first strategy aimed directly at tackling the problem.

Councillors are now to scrutinise the effectiveness of the work being done and a report explains: “Children and young people have a right to live in an environment where they are loved, feel valued and are cared for so that they can reach their potential and have aspirations.

“If children are not safe, they cannot be healthy, happy, achieve or reach their full potential.

“Neglect creates lasting damage and has long-term consequences for the young people and families involved.

“The strategy aims to encourage a whole family approach and to underline the importance of recognising the impact neglect can have on adolescents, from anti-social behaviour to poor educational achievements and longer-term mental health problems.”

An organisation called the Barnsley Safeguarding Children Board operates in the borough, involving police, health and education staff alongside the council’s children’s social care workers, orchestrating the work to improve performance in addressing neglect.

Councillors will question senior officials involved in the work around neglect and a report for them to study ahead of the meeting states: “As a result of this work, neglect is being talked about across agencies and there is a better understanding of the identification and impact of neglect.

“We have increased the numbers of children subject to a Child Protection Plan because of neglect by 33 per cent and we have increased the numbers of care proceedings where the primary issue is neglect.”

Staff have also improved performance in getting evidence of neglect before the courts as quickly as possible, so proceedings involving children’s welfare can move forward quickly and smoothly.