HIGH profile tragic cases of child neglect and murder always lead to an increase in child protection referrals but it does not always mean there are more young people in danger.
Recent heart-breaking cases in England had lead to an increase in reports of child safety concerns but head of children’s services Darren Mutter reassured councillors that “it did not automatically follow that referrals that come in the front door add up to an issue that requires intervention.”
Members of the social services overview and scrutiny committee were discussion the social services quarter two performance report which shows that demand for social care continues to rise.
Asking about the increase in contact referral forms submitted – 1,575 in quarter two 2021/22 compared to 1,287 the previous year – Cllr David Bryan was told the service “always see a spike in referrals” after high profile cases because risk around children is “heightened”, people are more aware and people become more cautious.
Not all referrals require intervention the committee were assured and the number of children on the child protection register were lower than the same time last year, added Mr Mutter, at 59 for quarter two 2021/22 compared to 75 in 2020/21.
However, it was also noted that the percentage of children on protection plans at risk of the ‘toxic three’ adverse childhood experiences – domestic abuse, parental substance misuse and parental mental health issues – had increase to 41 per cent since the last quarter.
Mr Mutter said it showed the “complexity” of the families being worked with and there were many “on the fringes” of needing child protection where significant work was being done with those involved to prevent that.
The impact on children of any of these factors “stack up” and make the risk larger, and it “becomes an ever increasing worry for us,” said Mr Mutter.
Funding to deal with a backlog of deprivation of liberty and adult protection referrals had been received from Welsh Government the committee also heard.