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Large number of children at "significant" risk in Newtown

 
Created on 05/01/2018 @ 13:56
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Newtown has a high proportion of children at "significant" risk from abuse and neglect, according to figures seen by MyNewtown.

Between August and October last year, 40 Section 47 assessments were undertaken by Powys County Council's Newtown-based child protection team. These are assessments undertaken when it is deemed a child is at "significant risk" and protection teams undertake an assessment of the child and the situation they are in.

The figures come as work continues to improve child safeguarding services in the county following a damning report by inspectors into the state of the child service at Powys County Council.

It has also emerged that the county council is now relying heavily on agency staff, likely to cost the authority significantly, as it struggles with resignations and recruitment due to low morale within the child services teams.

But figures in a report to the council's Cabinet next week show that in addition to the number of Section 47 assessments in and around the town, 24 children in the area were on the Child Protection Register at the end of November out of 104 throughout Powys.

In terms of the Section 47 assessments, Newtown had 40 between August and October, the same number carried out by the Welshpool team.

In the larger geographic areas of Brecon and Ystradgynlais, there were 46 such assessments, while the whole of Radnor, which covers numerous towns, had 53.

In an update to the Cabinet on the actions being taken to address the concerns of the Care and Social Service Inspectors Wales (CSSIW) report last year, the report states: "Staffing arrangements across Powys have now been reviewed. Currently, there are 47 agency workers in place. This has brought greater stability to teams but it is not a sustainable solution in terms of meeting the needs of children and families in the longer term," states the report.

"We continue to experience pressure points in some teams, notably Welshpool and Radnor, where a number of staff have tendered their resignation and there are high levels of absences through illness.

"There are plans in place to strengthen these teams with additional agency social work staff. Over the past three months, there has been a concerted effort to improve practice and performance, focusing on making sure that children and families are seen and that assessments are completed in a timely manner."

The report said there had been a spike in Section 47 assessments in October where children were being considered to be at significant risk.

"There were more Section 47 investigations in October, coinciding with publication of the CSSIW report. This is often the case. Perhaps because agencies tend to re-refer cases and seek to classify referrals as child protection matters (rather than Care and Well-being referrals)," added the report.

The report highlights the type of issues surrounding children who have been put on the Child Protection Register. As at 27 November, these were 42 per cent neglect, 39 per cent emotional abuse, 14 per cent physical abuse, 5 per cent sexual abuse and two per cent neglect and sexual abuse. in the county as a whole.

The majority of cases involve children aged 12 and older.

The report states that action in all areas of child services and protection is being addressed as a result of the inspectors report.

The Cabinet will consider the full report on Tuesday next week.

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