There are many factors that influence and shape the development of a child. Some are within the child, such as genetic factors, and others are from external sources such as physical, psychological and family influences, as well as the wider neighbourhood and cultural aspects.
Neglect is therefore often complex and not always immediately recognised. The impact will vary according to type, severity and length of time, making it difficult for those working with children and families to manage. Professional uncertainty, differences of opinion or undue optimism regarding levels of need and the criteria for significant harm can lead to long term exposure which substantially increase the risk to children.
Neglect of children remains one of the Lewisham Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP) key priorities. This strategy has been developed with multi-agency partners to set out Lewisham’s approach to PREVENT RESPOND to AND REDUCE child neglect in Lewisham.
This strategy should be viewed alongside the following key strategies, policies and procedures and government guidance in relation to neglect:
Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) describes neglect as:
The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
- protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
- ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers)
- ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.’
Why is this important in Lewisham?
Neglect is the most common reason for a child to be the subject of a child protection plan in the UK. In Lewisham, neglect is one of the highest risk factor indicators.
What do professionals need to do?
Although you may be worried about a child, it’s not always easy for professionals to identify neglect. There’s often no single sign or incident that a child or family need help. It is more likely that there will be a series of concerns over a period of time that, taken together, demonstrate the child is at risk. If you think a child may be experiencing neglect, don’t wait:
- Gather all relevant information about the child, including the parenting capacity and family and environmental factors in order to form a professional judgment on strengths, risks and harmful factors
- Use professional curiosity to understand the child and families lived experiences.
- Use our newly developed Signs of Safety Neglect Screening Tool to help you identify concerns about whether the child’s needs are being neglected. This will assist with the early identification of neglect or in coordinating support for families in need of additional help. The checklist can also be used to track improvements, deterioration, or ‘drift’
- Regularly review progress using the screening tool below and update the multi-agency plan accordingly.
- Where there are concerns about a child’s needs or their needs are unclear, a Common Assessment (CAF) should be considered in line with LSCP - Lewisham Threshold Document - Continuum of Need (2023-25)
Signs of Safety Neglect Screening Tool
Signs of Safety Neglect Screening Tool Guidance Framework
Introduction to the Signs of Safety Neglect Screening Tool video - Alex Campbell, Lewisham Workforce Development Group
LSCP Multi-Agency Neglect Strategy 2023-2026
LSCP Neglect Strategic Action Plan 2023-2026