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Helping parents give children five and under the high level of care and attention they need

We are piloting a service known as SafeCare® with the parents of neglected children in the UK to help end the neglect of children five and under.

Recent NSPCC research shows almost one in ten children have suffered parental neglect.

We aim to help prevent cases of neglect from reaching this point.

Challenging neglectful behaviour

Babies and young children need a high level of parental care. Parents who physically or emotionally neglect a child at this age can cause immense, lasting damage to their child's development.

NSPCC workers will visit homes where children have been referred to the local authority because of concerns about neglect.

They will see parents and children for approximately five months, for one to two hours every week and provide advice and guidance on how to:

  • be more attentive to their children's needs and challenge neglectful behaviour
  • play with young children
  • keep children healthy and well-fed
  • handle crying, tantrums and other difficult behaviour
  • make the home safe and establish safe routines

The NSPCC Home Visitors will also work with local children's services to support the families.

How SafeCare® is helping families

NSPCC workers use the SafeCare® programme to work with families when children are at risk of neglect.

In Swindon, the NSPCC worked with one mum who was struggling to see the dangers at home*:

"I worked with one mum who had been struggling to keep her house in a suitable living condition since her son was born, making it dangerous for him.

"The house was extremely untidy and several rooms were inaccessible due to the amount of rubbish within them, including food and dirty pots.

"Through the NSPCC's Safecare® programme, I worked with the mum to help her see the potential dangers and improve the living conditions for both her and her pre-school aged son.

As a result the little boy was able to play safely with his toys, when before he literally could not find his toys and had nowhere to play because of the mess."

In west London, the NSPCC helped parents who had experienced abuse and neglect in their own childhoods*:

"I worked with one family where the parents had both been monitored by social services as they were growing up.

They were now struggling to provide appropriate routines for their own children around bedtimes and mealtimes. The children didn't have many toys and weren't encouraged to play.

"Through the Safecare® programme, I worked with the parents to make them understand the importance of playing with their children and setting routines for activities in order to make the children feel more secure and decrease the likelihood of them misbehaving out of boredom.

"This also gave the parents the confidence to use their skills and start to have fun with their children and enjoy being parents.

"I also worked with them around making their home safer for their children and focusing on their children's health so that all the children's needs were met."

*These are real cases but names and identifying features have been changed to protect identity.

Influencing new ways of working

The SafeCare® model has been tried and tested in the USA.

We believe it can also be used in the UK to halt neglectful behaviour and improve the futures of young children who otherwise may have been neglected.

The model cuts the risk of parents becoming so neglectful that children's services have to intervene or can potentially prevent further long term involvement.

Find out more about our work in this area

Why neglected children are a priority

Information on neglected children for professionals

Supporting parents who are struggling to care for their children

Helping social workers make the right decisions in cases of neglect

Trialling a evaluation tool for assessing the care of children and identifying neglect

Find out the services available in your area

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Services for professionals

We are testing a number of services across the UK to help tackle child neglect.

Find out more on NSPCC inform