Children Suffer as Pressure Builds on Families; Almost One in 10 Needing Help from Social Services

The Journal (Newcastle, England), April 20, 2013 | Go to article overview

Children Suffer as Pressure Builds on Families; Almost One in 10 Needing Help from Social Services


Byline: Dan Warburton Chief Reporter? 0191 201 6276 ? dan.warburton@ncjmedia.co.uk

ALMOST one in 10 children in the North East are coming on to the radar of social services, shock new figures show.

Official statistics indicate that the North East has by far the highest rates of "children in need" in England, with rates even higher than in parts of inner London.

In total the figures suggest that more than 23,000 children in the region were in need of social service attention by April 2012.

Nearly 9,000 of those were at risk of neglect or abuse, while another 9,000 had serious family problems and 370 were having to deal with a parent's disability or serious illness.

Last night increasing levels of deprivation were blamed as it emerged more than 3,600 children were the subject of child protection plans between 2011 and 2012.

Child abuse charities claimed that for every one of those children under the supervision of local authorities, another eight were being mistreated.

Gill Alexander, the chairwoman of Association of Directors of Children's Services Ltd, said the epidemic was being fuelled by "increasing pressure on families in the North East" in the recession.

Mrs Alexander, who is also strategic director for children, young people and learning for North Tyneside Council, said: "These statistics combine figures for any child who has been identified as in any type of need.

"The definition is broad and includes children who have a disability and or those who may require help at home, school or in their community.

It does include child protection matters, but neglect and deprivation makes up the majority of these cases.

"Levels of children in need are often linked to levels of deprivation. The North East follows this pattern and the figures show that interventions do help.

"Whilst there is a high number of children on protection plans there is too a high level of children coming off plans as their circumstances improve.

"Councils and partners are using thresholds appropriately and identifying and working with children in need and their families.

"It is important that children who need help are receiving it and these figures show that vulnerable families are being identified and offered support and help. …

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