What is neglect?
‘Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.’
As defined in HM Government Working together to Safeguard Children, 2015 (page 93):
What’s the impact of Neglect?
Children who have been neglected may experience short-term and long-term effects that last throughout their life.
Children who don’t get the love and care they need from their parents may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with other people later in life, including their own children.
Children who have been neglected are more likely to experience mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Young people may also take risks, such as running away from home, breaking the law, abusing drugs or alcohol, or getting involved in dangerous relationships - putting them at risk from sexual exploitation.
Serious Case reviews and Neglect
Neglect is a factor in 60% of serious case reviews.
Published case reviews highlight that professionals face a big challenge in identifying and taking timely action on neglect.
The learning from these reviews highlights that professionals from all agencies must be able to:
- recognise physical and emotional neglect
- understand the impact of cumulative and long term effects of neglect
- take timely action to safeguard children.
Risk factors for neglect in case reviews (as reviewed by NSPCC)
The following risk factors were highlighted in these case reviews as impacting on the parents’ ability to provide safe and appropriate care and to meet their children’s needs.
- Living with domestic abuse, drug and alcohol misuse, and parents with mental health problems.
- Young parents.
- Postnatal depression. Maternal depression was also linked to social isolation.
- Patterns of improvement in parental care, followed by deterioration.
- Financial problems including housing problems, homelessness, poverty and unemployment.
Lack of resources. High caseloads and understaffing may result in absence of supervision and support for social workers. High staff turnover makes it difficult to establish meaningful relationships with families.
The NSPCC also highlight areas for improved practice including:
- Be aware of children who are more vulnerable to neglect
- Monitor missed appointments
- Pay attention to accidents and injuries
- Have the confidence and knowledge to effectively assess parental capability to change
- See the bigger picture and understand the long-term impact of neglect
- Support families through early evidence-based assessment and intervention
- Work closely with other agencies to identify concerns and plan interventions
- Undertake robust and comprehensive assessments
- Keep focus on the need to improve outcomes for the child’s daily lived experience
- Use staff supervision to avoid case drift
What should I do if I have concerns about neglect?
It is important that practitioners take steps to address concerns around neglect as soon as they are identified to ensure appropriate responses are put in place to help stop the situation getting worse for the child or young person. We have developed a Neglect Screening Tool for anyone working with families and used to identify emerging concerns about Neglect.
Where professionals have concerns about the quality of care being provide to a child/children they should consider using the Graded Care Profile tool.
This can be used to inform intervention and actions plans ion the Earl Help Assessment (EHAT) can be used with parents and carers to identify what help is most needed at an early stage.
If you are a professional concerned about a child you should refer to the Responding to Need Guidance. Where appropriate, refer your concerns to CarelineHub using a Multi-Agency Referral Form MARF
If you require further information and advice you should contact the Consultant Social Worker within your nearest Early Help Hub.
If you have concerns a child is already suffering significant harm or is at risk of significant harm you should contact CarelineHUB on 0151 233 3700 (this must be followed up in writing using the MARF within one working day).
You should always discuss your concerns with the senior person in your organisation who is responsible for safeguarding and child protection.
If you are worried about the immediate safety of children and young people, please report it to the Police on 999
Access online E Learning Modules here:
The Purpose of this Neglect Screening Tool is to equip frontline practitioners to:
- identify signs of neglect at an early stage,
- be alerted to the need for further action and or/assessment eg Graded Care Profile 2
- identify which agency/organisation/practitioner will progress further assessment/intervention as needed.
Using the tool
The tool is intended to be used by front line practitioners within all partner agencies as a means to quickly identify areas of concern which may indicate a child/young person is being neglected. Whilst using this tool, your focus should remain on the child and not the parent.
It is intended to complement existing tools eg. Early Help Assessment Tool, Child Exploitation (CSE, CE) or other screening/assessment tools and should be used accordingly.
The tool is designed to be applicable to all ages of children and should help you identify Neglect and associated factors across all age ranges.
In order to complete this tool it is essential that you are able to evidence the reasons why you have highlighted concerns for any of the factors indicated. Only complete the parts of the tool you are certain about. If you are unsure about completing the assessment seek appropriate help within your organisation.
We are currently implementing a roll out of the Graded Care Profile 2. The Graded Care Profile 2 is a tool to assist practitioners in the early assessment of neglect and to work with parents to improve the lives of children living in the household:
Neglect Strategy 2019 - 22
YOUNG PERSONS NEGLECT STRATEGY
Neglect - Serious Case Reviews Report - A report from the University of East Anglia commissioned by NSPCC
Troubled Teens - A study of the links between parenting and adolescent neglect. The Children's Society 2016
Child Abuse and Neglect in the UK today NSPCC
Child Neglect - Be Professionally Curious