Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

At-Risk Children to Be Protected

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

At-Risk Children to Be Protected

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield

Wide reaching measures to protect some of the region's most vulnerable children were outlined yesterday by Education Minister David Miliband.

The measures included in the Every Child Matters Green Paper are aimed at preventing a repeat of the Sophie Casey tragedy, where a 13-month-old baby from South Shields choked on her own vomit while in the care of a heroin addict.

South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney said South Tyneside Council's failure to protect Sophie was "gross, total and complete", and the case - along with that of London youngster Victoria Climbie - sparked an outcry over the failings of child protection agencies.

Under the measures outlined by Mr Miliband at a conference in South Shields yesterday, information shared between different public bodies would be improved and one worker would be made ultimately responsible for each child at risk.

The Government has also created a pounds 200m Young People's Fund to improve activities for children out of school hours and wants to set up Sure State Children's Centres combining nurseries with family support and employment advice in the country's most deprived neighbourhoods.

The moves are part of the Government's response to the Laming Report, which said the death of Victoria Climbie should spark a massive overhaul of child protection services.

Mr Miliband said: "Between 50 and 100 children die in Britain every year as a result of child abuse and neglect.

"That's a horrifying figure and I can't believe we don't all want it to be zero. We can't legislate for human nature but we can legislate to give children every protection possible."

NSPCC policy adviser for the North, Sue Woolmore, said: "This Bill is the most important step forward for child protection in more than a decade. …

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