Half of council-helped children experience abuse

The Local Government Association has warned that half of children who are assessed as ‘in need of extra help’ by council child protection teams have experienced or witnessed domestic violence.

With children’s services facing unprecedented demand, the LGA has urged the government to centre its package of reform, first outlined in the Queen’s Speech, from handing the aftermath of abuse to focusing on early intervention and preventing it occurring in the first place.

A child is being referred to council children’s services every 49 seconds on a daily basis, which, when compiled with a a £2 billion funding gap by 2020, is leaving councils having to prioritise spending for children at immediate risk of harm, rather than on earlier support services.

The LGA is therefore calling in the government to ‘adequately fund’ children’s services so councils are able to support children who are in the highest level of need and invest in early intervention initiatives that provide support for children experiencing domestic violence.

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime which takes place behind the curtains in our communities, and can be psychological, physical, emotional and sometimes even life-threatening. It’s awful to imagine the pain and hurt that perpetrators inflict on victims and to think of children witnessing or even being victims of abuse.

“We need the government to include early intervention and preventative measures in its comprehensive package of reforms to address domestic abuse as the best way to tackle this issue. The government needs to close the funding gap facing children’s services, which will reach at least £2 billion by 2020. An urgent injection of funding is also needed to protect the services that families rely on to tackle problems or recover from previous abuse. All children deserve the chance of a bright future and we have a moral duty to do more than just pick up the pieces when things go wrong. Failure to invest in these services will have long term consequences for our country’s children and families and create crises which are much more expensive to solve in the long run.”