Southend Ofsted report: no ‘sticking plaster approach’ to child neglect

A senior Southend councillor says a “sticking plaster approach” does not work in tackling the issue of child neglect.

Tricia Cowdrey, chairman of the council’s people scrutiny committee, said: “Identifying need early, whether that be financial, educational, psychological or other, and ensuring that the right services are there at the point of identification will go a long way in reducing the number of children and families needing high level support.

“ However, it needs to be accessible and sustainable to all families, as a sticking plaster approach will not be enough.”

A growing number of families have the extra burden of special educational needs children.

Maggie Cleary, chief executive of the SEND the Right Message charity, has been fundamental in getting disability on the agenda locally with Southend’s Tackling Poverty strategy.

She said: “SEND the Right Message were pleased to see that the findings from the recent Ofsted focused visit highlighted significant improvements within some key areas of Southend’s children’s services but we feel that working collectively and implementing preventative measures would support more families to feel safe and secure.

“Tackling the high incidences of neglect and domestic abuse cannot be achieved without fully understanding the other social determinants which contribute to the cumulative difficulties faced by a family, particularly when there are key statistics that evidences misdiagnosis, and historical unmet need due to lack of statutory services.

“As an organisation that works directly with local neurodivergent families, we believe that a well-rounded and holistic approach to family support and intervention. Poverty rates are high in the Southend area, but we do not believe that the solution is going to be found by focusing on one service area at a time.

Inspectors said there had been “significant improvements” in children’s services but they added some children were living with neglect or with domestic abuse” and are left in tough circumstances that show no signs of improvement.

The report said: “For some children living in neglectful and or with domestic abuse, help is not provided consistently. For a few social workers, their high workloads impact on their ability to engage sufficiently with children and impedes the progression of plans.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter