Common Operational Approach
Using the 'Graded Care Profile'
in Cases of Neglect
O. Prakash Srivastava, Janice Stewart,
Richard Fountain and Patrick Ayre
Neglect has serious consequences for children in terms of health, growth and development. The protection of children from neglect is therefore of paramount importance but it can be difficult to achieve because of the problems of identification which it poses. Subjective judgements often come into play because this form of abuse is relatively nebulous, yet the harm it causes can be nonetheless devastating. Without timely intervention, the point may be reached where the effects are irreversible. The English and Welsh Children Act (1989) requires local authorities, working in collaboration with other agencies, to safeguard children from all forms of abuse including neglect. However, the wide variation in practice in dealing with neglect is evident from the variation in the number of children on child protection registers under this category across authorities. It is particularly difficult to recognize it in its milder forms and it has seemed that severe damage must often occur before the child protection system becomes meaningfully engaged (Ayre 1998).
Another group of children who may suffer in similar ways are those who are not neglected but are exposed to other adversities outside their carer's control which do not allow their needs to be met. Such children need support in addition to that which their carers can provide in order to help them to maintain or achieve their potential. These are collectively called 'children in need' (Children Act (1989), Section 17) and local authorities are expected to identify and assist them, in collaboration with other agencies. There appears to be even more variation in the ways in which their needs are addressed.