Families and practitioners want early intervention to prevent child neglect, says research
26 September 2013
Families with children at risk of neglect, amongst other difficulties, feel under-informed about how local services can help them, and will often only ask for help once they reach crisis point because of the stigma attached to this and fear of what action children’s social care might take.
This is according to the LARC 5 report published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), following a project run in partnership with Research in Practice (RiP).
Evidence gathered from over 40 parents, children and young people and 105 practitioners from education, health, early intervention services and others across nine local authority areas, suggests more needs to be done to encourage families to access and engage with early help, to prevent problems worsening.
The study, carried out by the local authorities working with the Local Authorities Research Consortium (LARC), investigated service responses to neglect and explored barriers to family engagement with the aim of understanding how best to support families experiencing or at risk of neglect.
Researchers found that although responses to children at risk of neglect varied slightly between local authorities, help tended to be concentrated on those families already in crisis, rather than offering preventative support.
There is a need to recognise the value of non-statutory services in helping statutory services to achieve sustained outcomes for children and young people - supporting families to step down from targeted services and avoid a cycle of dependency (the ‘revolving door’).
To overcome gaps in provision, professionals and families suggested:
Simpler referral processes and shorter waiting lists
Better information to debunk misconceptions about children’s social care
Whole family assessments and support
Ensuring frontline staff have the skills to develop honest relationships with families
Janette Karklins, Director Children,Young People & Learning at Bracknell Forest Council and Chair of the LARC Steering Group, said: “That professionals and families are telling us the same messages about how we can better engage families, and that they are united in their desire for earlier help, is a compelling message for those of us designing and delivering services. Non-statutory services, and indeed communities, have a critical role in identifying and responding to neglect – and we must think about how to draw upon this in order to make a difference to the children and families we serve.”
The full report, ‘We should have been helped from day one’: a unique perspective from practitioners, children and families, can be found at /lp1a.
Summaries for practitioner groups will be available later this year.
The next LARC project will begin in April 2014. We will again focus the research on neglect. To express an interest in LARC 6 please email email@example.com.
Note to editors
LARC is a Research in Practice (RiP) and NFER partnership project.
LARC research adopts a practitioner-based model. National Foundation for Educational Research and Research in Practice researchers support authorities to carry out their own research in a robust and timely manner. Each year the Children’s Services sector chooses a new research topic for LARC. These focus on issues that are of current importance around early intervention. For each LARC project, we write an overarching report summarising the findings from the participating authorities. The next round will commence in April 2014. Further information can be found at: /larc.
NFER is the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education, training and children’s services. www.nfer.ac.uk
RiP is a department within the Dartington Hall Trust’s Social Justice programme. It is a collaboration with a network of Partners from the children’s sector, which aims to build the capacity for evidence-informed practice in children’s services.