Increase In Islands’ Child Referral Cases

The Council’s Social Services team are the busiest that they have ever been, Councillors have heard.

There were 45 cases under Children’s Social Care in mid-January with 14 of those relating to family support cases and 19 relating to disability or additional needs issues.

From 1st April 2011 there were 29 new referrals to Children’s Social Care at Child in Need or Child Protection level of intervention.

Jane Stewart, the Supervising Social Worker at Children’s Social Care Services, told Scilly Today that’s not as worrying or serious as it seems.

Staff follow a list of checks and thresholds to assess whether intervention is appropriate and can step in if, for example, they observe or receive allegations of a youngster starting to default on health appointments, displaying poor punctuality or hygiene, abusing other children or engaging in early sexual activity.

Jane says her team need to “unpick the reasons” why their workload has increased and feels it could be down to awareness of the support services offered on the islands.

Jane says, “we have built up the level of trust in the community, and our provision is beginning to get more embedded, especially in terms of disabilities and additional needs work.”

There were suggestions made in the recent Children and Young People committee that the recession has had an impact too.

Jane adds that much of her team’s work relates to preventing problems by helping families to avoid getting to “crisis point.”

After an initial assessment, the support that’s need to get a youngster “back on track” can be offered, often on a short term basis.