Thriving Families Defining, detecting and tackling child neglect

Thriving Families can help professionals provide the right support for families where neglect could be an issue. We know it can be hard to recognise neglect, or understand how to prevent it from happening but we can help.

mother helping child with shoe

Identifying and acting on child neglect

Neglect is the biggest reason for child protection authorities to become involved in family life. Yet, it isn't easy to detect because it can happen for many underlying reasons.

As it's often not about identifying a one-off incident but instead an accumulation of incidents over time, it can be difficult for professionals working with children to identify the point when they should be making a referral or escalating action.

Without the appropriate assessment and intervention, neglect can seriously affect the physical, social and emotional development of children from birth onwards.

Neglect: the local picture

Thriving Families is working in Bradford to:

  • increase awareness of neglect within agencies and organisations, for example in social care or health
  • make it easier for early help providers, such as parenting organisations, to work with families to address the causes of neglect
  • provide evidence-based assessments and interventions which we know work to help children who are neglected
  • reduce the number of children and families who are referred again to social services
  • support over-stretched statutory services such as in social care, health and education

In Bradford the proportion of child protection plans due to neglect is higher than the national average

Explanation: In 2014/15 48% of child protection plans in Bradford were due to neglect – compared to 45% in England.

Thriving Families is working in Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan to identify neglect at an earlier stage to:

  • prevent the potential for continued harm
  • reduce the number of children reaching the threshold for child protection intervention – ie being placed on the child protection register

Neglect is a common issue particularly in Cardiff where the proportion of children on the child protection register due to neglect is higher than the national average

Explanation: In 2014/15 41% of children on child protection registers in Cardiff and 39% in Vale of Glamorgan are on them due to neglect – compared to 40% in Wales.

 

Thriving Families is working in Grimsby and North East Lincolnshire to:

  • significantly reduce the prevalence and impact of neglect upon children and young people
  • provide early help to prevent neglect becoming more serious through early recognition, robust assessment and evidenced-based interventions
  • find out and record what works, so we can help more children and families

In North East Lincolnshire the proportion of child protection plans due to neglect is higher than the national average

Explanation: In 2014/15 67% of children are subject to a child protection plan in North East Lincolnshire are on a plan due to neglect, compared to 45% in England.

Thriving Families is working in Newcastle and North Tyneside to:

  • help the public and professionals identify and respond to neglect at the earliest stage
  • ensure vulnerable groups are measurably thriving – these groups can include children living with parents seeking asylum and refugees, teenage parents, parents affected by mental health and emotional well-being issues, parents affected by drug and alcohol misuse, parents affected by domestic abuse and parents with learning disabilities
  • reduce the number of children with child protection plans for neglect – including those with 2 or more
  • reduce the length of time children and young people have child protection plans for neglect

Neglect is a common issue particularly in North Tyneside where the proportion of children on the child protection register due to neglect is higher than the national average

Explanation: In 2014/15 37% of children subject to child protection plans in Newcastle were due to neglect, and 56% in North Tyneside were due to neglect – compared to 45% average in England.

Thriving Families is working in Swansea to:

  • provide a targeted, flexible, integrated approach to tackling neglect through delivering bespoke assessments and evidence-based interventions.
  • collaborate directly with families to provide assessment and services, giving them every opportunity to effect change and thereby ensure the best possible outcomes for children and young people

Neglect is a common issue particularly in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot where the proportion of children on the child protection register due to neglect is higher than the national average

Explanation: In 2014/15 46% of children on child protection registers in Swansea, 43% in Neath Port Talbot, 28% in Bidgend and 29% in Carmarthenshire are on them due to neglect – compared to 40% in Wales.

How Thriving Families works

We've built on extensive experience and research to develop a consistent approach to child neglect. We make sure families receive the right support at the right time by working with them at every step of their journey - from assessing neglect through to finding the right services to help prevent and address it. 

When a family is referred to us, we work with them in 2 key stages: assessing neglect and finding the right services to help.

Bespoke assessment

We carry out an assessment which is made-to-measure for the needs of each family. This helps answer 4 questions about the type, scale, impact and reason behind neglect.

The assessment shows the current or potential impact of neglect on the child's physical and emotional development so that we can provide them with the most appropriate support. And it helps parents understand the concerns and what they can do.

We use a range of tools including the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale to measure the impact and any changes in the level of neglect.

Bespoke assessment helps practitioners and families work together to improve:

  • the daily lives of children
  • parenting capacity (and reduce pressure) by ensuring they access the most appropriate service
  • access to help through local services

Services for children and families

Thriving Families incorporates a range of services such as:

  • change services: helping parents, carers with parenting
  • existing local services: these are complementary services, offered by the NSPCC or partner organisations, that can help families experiencing neglect
  • new services: in partnership with local agencies we continue to identify critical gaps in current local support for families; in time, we aim to deliver new services, where possible, in collaboration with others

Helping mums, dads and carers with parenting

SafeCare®

Practical support for parents of children aged 5 or under to help them develop parenting skills and focus on the needs of their child.

Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P)

Helping parents to manage their moods, improve communication and increase their confidence and parenting skills.

Video Interaction Guidance (VIG)

Supports parents in understanding and responding to their children's needs. Uses a filmed clip and strengths-based model.

Where Thriving Families is available

Bradford

01274 381 440

Cardiff

02920 108080

Grimsby

01472 803 500

Newcastle upon Tyne

0191 227 5300

Swansea

01792 341 700

Existing services in your area

In Bradford, there is a range of existing local services that can help prevent and address neglect. For example, our partners deliver services such as Families First. And the local authority has 3 family centres, a family intervention project and a family outreach team.

Voluntary organisations deliver a range of additional services for particular needs within a diverse community – eg for parents of children with autism or Down's syndrome – or for particular minority ethnic communities.


 

Our Bradford service centre offers:

Baby Steps

Ante-natal programme helping vulnerable parents cope with the pressures of having a baby.
Baby Steps service

Coping with Crying

Helping parents to keep calm and soothe their crying baby.
Coping with Crying service

Turn the Page

We protect children from the most common type of contact sexual abuse.
Turn the Page service

Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan LSCB has developed a neglect toolkit for all professionals, which is designed for very early identification.


 

Our Cardiff service centre offers:

Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP)

Protecting children living with adult drug and alcohol misuse.
FEDUP - Family Environment: Drug Using Parents service

Caring Dads: Safer Children

Helping fathers see the impact their violent behaviour has on their children and how they can make positive changes for the future.
Caring Dads: Safer Children service

Letting the Future In

Letting the Future In helps children who have been sexually abused.
Letting the Future In service

Turn the Page

We protect children from the most common type of contact sexual abuse.
Turn the Page service

Assessing the Risk, Protecting the Child

We assess and work with adults to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse.
Assessing the Risk service

Protect and Respect

For young people who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation or who have been sexually exploited.
Protect and Respect service

Families can access services such as:

  • bumps to babies
  • baby massage
  • Homestart
  • Strengthening Families Programme
  • PAMS assessment (for parents with learning disabilities)
  • Family Links Nurturing Programme

 

Our Grimsby service centre offers:

Family Environment: Drug Using Parents (FEDUP)

Protecting children living with adult drug and alcohol misuse.
FEDUP - Family Environment: Drug Using Parents service

Family SMILES

Support and life skills for children who live with mums or dads with mental health difficulties.
Family SMILES service

Face to Face

Improving the emotional well-being of children in care, or who may go into care, by helping them find solutions to problems affecting their lives.
Face to Face service

Turn the Page

We protect children from the most common type of contact sexual abuse.
Turn the Page service

A range of services is available in Newcastle, including:

  • Troubled Families
  • early intervention services
  • the Family Intervention Project (FIP) team
  • children's centre services
  • parenting programmes, provided by a range of voluntary organisations alongside those delivered by statutory services

 

Our Newcastle service centre offers:

Coping with Crying

Helping parents to keep calm and soothe their crying baby.
Coping with Crying service

Letting the Future In

Letting the Future In helps children who have been sexually abused.
Letting the Future In service

Turn the Page

We protect children from the most common type of contact sexual abuse.
Turn the Page service

Taking Care

Helping to make sure children only return home from care when it’s safe and with the right support.
Taking Care service

There is a range of services available in Swansea, such as:

  • Flying Start, Sure Start – aimed at younger children
  • domestic violence services – Freedom Programme, Angry Man, counselling for children
  • parenting support initiatives, working with families in crises
  • Integrated Family Support Service (IFSS) – aimed at families where substance misuse, alcohol and domestic violence are a feature
  • Connecting Families programme for highly complex families who are at risk of significant harm
  • Invisible Walls for offenders and their families who need systemic community support
  • Edge of Care, Option 2 – limited support focused at adolescence to prevent the number of adolescents being accommodated
  • the Strengthening Families model – used throughout the local authority areas that we cover and mainly focuses on families where substance misuse is an issue
  • Action for Children provide a number of parenting services locally with focus on children in need and primarily for the 5–12 years age range
  • local CAMHS services are only able to work with children with significant diagnosed mental health issues

 

Our Swansea service centre offers:

Coping with Crying

Helping parents to keep calm and soothe their crying baby.
Coping with Crying service

Letting the Future In

Letting the Future In helps children who have been sexually abused.
Letting the Future In service

Face to Face

Improving the emotional well-being of children in care, or who may go into care, by helping them find solutions to problems affecting their lives.
Face to Face service

Baby Steps

Ante-natal programme helping vulnerable parents cope with the pressures of having a baby.
Baby Steps service

Advice and resources for professionals

Neglect

Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs. It's dangerous and children can suffer serious and long-term harm.
Read more about neglect

Research and resources on child neglect

Get child protection research, leaflets, guidance, evaluations and safeguarding resources on neglect.

View resources

Impact and evidence hub

Find out how we evaluate and research the impact we’re making in protecting children, get tips and tools for researchers and access resources.
Our impact and evidence

Child protection in the UK

How the systems and laws of the UK and its 4 nations work to keep children safe from abuse and harm.
More about the child protection system

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