Neglected older children often slip through the cracks

Older neglected children are not always receiving the support and protection they need, a report has found.

The joint report Growing up neglected: a multi-agency response to older children, from Ofsted, HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and HMI Probation, says that professionals working with children often fail to spot the signs of neglect in older children as they are not as ‘obvious’ as in young children.

The report found that some local agencies see older children to be the ‘problem’ with little consideration of the underlying causes that contribute to this behaviour, such as neglectful parenting.

The report calls for better training for professionals in identifying the signs of neglect in order children. It also calls for a ‘whole system’ approach to identifying and preventing neglect, including from adult services working with parents.

A more co-ordinated, strategic approach across all agencies working with children and parents is also recommended, and the report urges for the behaviour of older children to be understood in the context of the trauma they have experienced.

The report highlights the vital role adult services, including probation and adult health services, have to play in recognising neglectful parenting. But it finds that too often, mental health and substance misuse services do not think about the whole family and the impact of adults’ behaviour on children. Information on adults who have limited parenting capacity due to mental health or substance misuse is not always shared with partner agencies.

The report is based on the result of inspections of services for children in six local authority areas. This includes children’s services departments, police, youth offending services, education, health, and probation services.

The inspections looked at how well local agencies are working together to help and protect older children who are neglected or at risk of neglect. Inspectors spoke to professionals as well as children and parents, and looked at a range of cases from children aged 7 to 15 years old.

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