Does Every Child Matter?
The Government brought in the Every Child Matters reform in hand with their response to the Lord Laming Review over Victoria Climbie’s tragic death in 2000. Since the abolishment of the Child Protection Register and the introduction of the Intergrated Database providing details of all children to the primary services, I look at what has or hasn’t changed.
Every Child Matters was published alongside the Government’s response to Lord Laming’s Report into the tragic death of Victoria Climbie in 2003. The aim of Every Child Matters is to protect Children but also maximise the opportunities available to young people to improve their life and fulfil their potential.
The Child Protection register was abolished and replaced with Child Protection Plans. A database was set up which shared information between Social Services, Police, and Health Agencies. This was done to make sure that vulnerable Children do not ‘slip through the net’.
6 Years on has this reform really worked? I believe the simple answer is no.
New figures announced by the Government show that between 04-08 163 Child Deaths occurred which could have been prevented. These deaths happened across 84 different Local Authorities. 68 of these Children were on a Child Protection Plan. 78 of these children were ‘unknown‘.
A child being classed as ‘unknown’ does not mean that a child is unknown as we would perceive it.
A child being classed as ‘unknown’ can mean that for example the Police have been called to the Family home after a case of Domestic Violence. In these circumstances the Police should refer the Family to Social Services. When Social Services receive the referral they should then carry out a risk assessment.
In one instance that has been documented Police made the referral but Social Services did not carry out a adequate risk assessment after the Mother had been raped by the Father. They did not interview the Children in the Family.
After the rape one of the Children reported to the school nurse that her Father had once tried to strangle her. The School Nurse informed Social Services and they spoke to the child on the phone. That was the last that they heard from Social Services. They never even came out to see that Child.
That family only became ‘known’ to Social Services after the Father killed one of the Children.
Children are only classed as ‘known’ to Social Services if they are or have been part of a Child Protection Plan.
There has been public outcry at the Death of Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter. Both of these cases have involved Haringey Social Services, but the reality is that there are hundreds more Victoria’s and Baby Peter’s out there that desperately need help.
I believe the Government really need to rethink their Child Protection Strategies in the UK. More focus should be given to protecting vulnerable Children.
One of the problems is that since Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter ‘Macho Management’ has been in force in the UK. So many Managers of Social Service Departments are so worried about a case like Victoria Climbie or Baby Peter happening on their patch that they focus to much on the children who are in fact safe at home, and not enough attention to the Children who really are at risk. This is then how a case such as Victoria and Baby Peter happen.
Since the Baby Peter tragedy care proceedings in the UK have rocketed. They have risen to 1400 from 1000 cases per month. That is an increase of 400 Children per month
This confirms that the children who are really at risk are being left behind in the community while Social Workers are focusing on Children who are safe at home, although the family may need some support.
The Government does not seem to think that Every Child Matters or these tragic deaths would not be happening. The DCSF made this quite clear by not attending the debate held by no2abuse in Parliament on the 6th July despite being given plenty of notice.
The Government need to listen to people who have been through the system such as Care Leavers, Children, Parents, and other organisations who advocate for Children’s rights.
Until they can listen to these people they cannot say that Every Child Matters.