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Increase in early intervention services desperately needed

A YouGov poll for Barnardo's found there has been an increase in the numbers of particularly vulnerable children due to a shortfall in early intervention

Published on 27th September 2018

Children's services professionals are urging more early intervention and preventative services, according to a YouGov poll for Barnardo's.

The children's charity warns that social workers, education and law enforcement workers in England are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of complex growing need as a result of increased poverty and a lack of mental health services, combined with a crisis in confidence in their ability to provide the support needed.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they have seen an increase in overall numbers of particularly vulnerable children in the past five years.

Across-the-board, professionals say more early intervention services are needed. Sixty seven per cent  of those reporting an increase in the numbers of particularly vulnerable children attribute this to a shortfall in early intervention.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: "The results of this survey are a real wake up call. What we’re seeing is a ‘perfect storm’ of more children needing help, increasingly complex challenges, and a system struggling to cope.

"With less and less resource for early intervention, and long waits for specialist mental health services, we are in danger of failing a generation of vulnerable children who face a future without hope. It’s also a false economy – young people who don’t get help now will develop far deeper and more costly problems in the future," he added.

This complexity of caseload is set against a backdrop of severe local authority cuts with more than three quarters saying there is insufficient resource to meet demand across services.

Seventy two per cent of all those polled think social workers are unable to give all children on their caseloads the support and time they need, as a result of increased pressure on the agencies that interact with particularly vulnerable children. Among social workers, this figure rises to 85%.

The poll found:

- 68% say children and families are waiting too long for help and support.

-  44% have seen an increase in the number of children who have experienced multiple forms of abuse or trauma in the last five years.

- 40% say children experience increased incidents of abuse and trauma whilst waiting to be offered a service as a result of the increased pressure on agencies.

Asked to break down the areas where they have seen an increase in demand for support in relation to the children they work with:

- 57% said in adverse child mental health

- 47% said in adverse parental mental health

- 42% said among children witnessing domestic abuse

Furthermore, almost half of the professionals working in the area who come into contact with vulnerable children are not confident they could offer secure effective support for children considered to have experienced multiple forms of trauma and abuse.

Over a third claim agencies that deal with particularly vulnerable children who need support, do not work together very well.

Javed Khan added: "With a radical new approach we can turn this around. Last year Barnardo’s supported 301,100 children young people, parents and carers across the UK. By forming Strategic Partnerships with local and national agencies, co-designing and delivering services, and investing our donors’ money, alongside statutory sources, we can achieve a real step change, so that young people get help long before they reach crisis point."

 

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