Child in need – a definition:
“To safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need; and, so far as is reasonably consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs.”
As a parent, my daughter was recognised as being a child in significant need, so we were moved onto a child in need plan a few years ago.
In theory it works; on paper it reads that it promotes the wellbeing of the child, safeguards them and creates a coordinated response in order to meet the needs of a complex child.
And it should work – that is if local authorities followed the protocol and the guidelines set out by the Children and Families Act.
The problem is that there isn’t anyone monitoring when teams around the child are not doing what they should be doing.
The only way of forcing them is to take the matter into legal hands.
But that requires the family to know their rights, to have a degree of education, to be financially stable, to not have any additional needs themselves and most importantly to not have cracked during this whole process enough to have the fight to highlight background failures.
So many factors that make it virtually impossible for any families to really force the authorities to do what they are legally bound to do.
If it were the parents breaking the rules, we would be fined or prosecuted against.
But the authorities can behave in any way, shape or form because even when they are found to be corrupt or negligent, there are no ramifications to them as a body.
Nobody gets sacked or prosecuted against – the very worst is that they face the shame when their actions are highlighted to a judge.
But does it deter them from continuing with their antics? Of course not, it simply becomes one family who broke through the net, whilst other families are further pawns in their game.
So many vulnerable children are disappearing into the shadows with very few being even monitored.
Sadly, these children are often a problem removed by counties, who sadly keep the currency of money as the only language they are interested in, whether this is due to financial cuts who can tell. I know I could not morally work in a job and be paid for it whilst I knew my actions were crippling the families I was supposed to be helping.
There are too many children who are now socially isolated and my fear is that one of these SEND children will be a victim that hits national news one day in a very big scandal.
We hear of them often when social care teams get blamed, but I dare to say that this will soon be a SEND education team investigated and hitting the headlines whilst they are blamed for their duty to safeguard the child.
A child in need plan should be keeping the child at the centre of everything and professionals like our SEND officers should not be able to continuously avoid attending so that they cannot answer questions regarding suitable placements.
I know this too well.
I have even written on numerous occasions to the director of children’s services at Hertfordshire County Council to complain about being abandoned and for individual teams who are breaking the law.
Shamefully, I never get a reply.
The director will continue on with their big salary whilst I fight through every barrier to get the appropriate services to engage with my child.
So many case loads for our social workers are for children who are out of school and social care teams in our county are picking up the costs where education teams are irking their duties.
This is having a huge effect on social workers and their ability to get the needs met of the children on their case loads.
I continue on this week as I no longer have a social worker allocated to our team. I have dealt with four workers and explained the same details of our situation in the past two months!
That statistic is appalling in itself; the third one who ran our child in need meeting had no idea what PDA was, so most of the meeting was explaining the back history of our four year case.
Talking about the fact that we are being failed, my daughter is being failed, that she has had two mental breakdowns and she is only eight years old meant that I broke.
I cried, deep hearty sobs, in front of the table of professionals and had to leave for a section of time because I could not face them any longer.
As I looked around the faces, one of them even said at the end; “please be reassured mum that everyone in this room wants the very best for your special little girl.”
I had no words.
I’m just fortunate that I have a good school who care deeply about what is best for my girl and some individuals who attend that are fantastic professionals and continually support our family. Without those, I hate to think where we would be.
So does the child in need plan, today, actually help our family?
I want to say yes, I wish I could, but only if you have knowledgeable professionals and consistency with teams, who follow the codes of practice and keep the child at the heart, then a child in need plan would be successful.