Child abuse and neglect have, unfortunately, been constantly rife of late. Public stories of sexual indiscretions such as the Jimmy Savile cases, along with recent negative Ofsted reports on educational institutions across the country, have exposed the seriousness of these issues, and those similar – especially as they are in the public eye. Ofsted, (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), have said that even Children’s Services departments seem to be struggling, meaning that children and child safety are more neglected than ever with increasing numbers of cases, and not everybody gets the help or advice that they need, when they need it.

New government policies are suggesting that any struggling Children’s Services Department could be taken over by independent providers in the near future. MP Michael Gove has recently opened up to the public about his efforts to facilitate changes in these departments, stating that he wishes to make it easier for children across the country to find help and stability. This comes after the revelation of dramatic Ofsted results, stating that 20 local authorities are deemed ‘inadequate’. Among the inadequate agencies are the authorities of Birmingham, Cumbria, and Doncaster. These are major areas housing thousands of children that are not being looked after or cared for in the necessary manner, especially those without parents or in care homes. Doncaster is said to be the worst of the 20, and Children’s Services Departments in the city have already been taken out of control due to complete failure. This, Gove believes, means that companies are not protecting children as well as they should be, hence the reasoning for the revelation that independent providers may soon take over, in order to give children everywhere the attention they require.

Gove seemed passionate during his speech at the NSPCC Centre in London, in mentioning that these actions are already being taken out in schools, and hence there is no reason why the same principles and care shouldn’t be put into Social Services Departments. The NSPCC, (The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), are reportedly supporting Gove’s recent ideas. Many children, Gove states, are ‘victims of social injustice’, which is something that should definitely not occur in modern day societies; unbiased, equal treatment is, and always should be, a must. However, although Gove seemed to be all for the change, many British academics have expressed their concerns. A professor at Kingston University, Ray Jones, as well as the Chief Executive of Children England, Kathy Evans, have both voiced concerns that this recent proposal is more inclined towards a profit-motive than a passionate care for children by the government, and have suggested that more careful consideration should be put into this huge and possibly fatal decision.

Kathy, who helps to represent more than 100 children’s charities in the UK, states, ‘making decisions about how resources will be allocated to children on taxpayers’ behalf is of the most concern’. Her worry comes after suggestions that independent companies may be unwilling to spend as much money as is currently budgeted for the correct resources; and, rightly so, she believes that scrimping is unacceptable with such delicate cases. She also states that paying attention to children at risk and assessing their families is equally important, and she hopes that independent agencies are willing to take on these burdens seriously.

Recent studies have found that one in ten UK children are neglected, and this is suspected to be a result of increased demand from social services and schools in recent years, which means that public facilities such as the Children’s Services department are being forced to prioritise. This means that, no matter how big or small the problem, some children’s issues are being overlooked. This is neither right nor fair, especially as these services promise to help anyone and everyone who should need it. For every nine children in danger, children’s services are only seeing fit to respond to one case. What about those other eight children? This inevitably means that 72% of cases are being ignored, and under no circumstances should this be deemed acceptable. Children are clearly suffering more than they have to because the services that are designed to help them have neither the staff, money or resources to be of use.

A recent report stated that ‘children’s social services are less and less able to cope with demand and more children are suffering,’ meaning that emerging issues, as well as older issues, are remaining unsolved. Teenage depression, self-harm and online abuse are more frequently going unnoticed or untreated, and this is a major motivation to move to independent companies, and see if this makes much difference. I just hope that for the sake of children everywhere, these independent agencies manage to reach those children that the larger ones couldn’t; and that this time next year, each case is being treated with the attention and care it deserves.



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