Another Victoria Climbé?
A murder investigation has been launched after two young children were found dead in a house. Police investigating the deaths have arrested a 30-year-old woman at an address in Hackney, east London, where the children, a three-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy, were found. She remains in custody tonight.
This time I do know we don't need any new law or guidance, the 1989 Children Act is a sound piece of legislation, & there is no ambiguity about the process which should be followed for a child at risk in guidance. Any falling through the cracks is the result of caseloads, which are often overwhelming in such a borough. This leads to high staff turnover & the problems which accompany it.
The social services team who will take your call, should you ring about a child, is called the Access team. In a much quieter (than London) countyshire office I learnt that the Child Access team can recieve 150 calls a week & the child protection team could cope with about 2 of those being passed on, maybe. Some calls can be screened out; people can't have their children being taken into care because they left the windows open again! Some are malicious ex-es or neighbours, & some require a follow up which happens within 7 days. It does happen, but after that, the Access team keep as many cases as they can, because can't refer them all on, even child protection is a concern.
Family Aides & Family Centres are fantastic, often supporting children & their families in very practical ways. Sometimes services can be put in place, referrals made to other agencies, & families emerge from their crisis. But the threshold for making a referral to the Child Protection Team is too high, because there are no resources, & cases escalate while people work very hard to keep the family together. Sometimes communciation fails in a way which really fails a child, & I hope that isn't what happened because we should know better.