Archive for ‘Children’

October 5, 2014

More evidence on why early intervention matters

We have two long term goals at CAADA.  One is to halve the number of high risk victims of domestic abuse and the other is to halve the time it takes for them to get effective help.  Surprisingly to many people, our evidence confirms that we actually support high risk victims at an earlier stage than other levels of risk – in part because the combination of violence and abuse that they suffer makes them more visible to both the police, health practitioners and others.  Our focus on reducing the time that victims live with abuse has two aims – to support them but also to limit the amount of time that their children are living with it too.

A new working paper published from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University entitled ‘Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain’ underlines just how important this is.  It describes how exposure of young children to toxic stress – namely strong, frequent or prolonged stress – can impact the development of those parts of the brain that manage fear, anxiety and impulsive responses.  This is just the sort of stress experienced by children, particularly very young children, living with domestic abuse.  The long term impacts include a range of stress related disorders depression, alcoholism and drug abuse and physical disorders including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke. (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/resources/reports_and_working_papers/working_papers/wp3/ )

More optimistically, the paper argues that responses to early stress vary dramatically with positive early care-giving being crucial to decrease the likelihood of adverse outcomes.  This links to another paper, published in June this year in the journal of Early Child Development and Care, entitled ‘Early childhood education as a resilience intervention for maltreated children’ (Ellenbogen, Klein and Wekerle), which argues for the value of high quality early childhood education, particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable families.

There is no question that the vast majority of children growing up with domestic abuse experience the kind of toxic stress that the Harvard team outlined.  Our children’s Insights data highlights how much children benefit from early support and what difference it can make to their view of the world and of themselves.  The most basic example of 60% of the children in our research being unable to fall asleep says it all for me.  Are we surprised if they don’t perform well at school the next day? And find it hard to make friends?  And then display ‘behavioural difficulties’? We need not just more specialist support for children, but also universal practitioners, friends and family to understand the impact of domestic abuse on their lives and how we can help build their resilience.

November 20, 2012

A Place of Greater Safety – Insights 1

It was a proud moment today when we published our first major policy report ‘A Place of Greater Safety’, using data collected by domestic abuse practitioners all around the country.  It is important because:

  1. It includes data from about 2500 victims and their children – highlighting the type of abuse they suffer and putting the real experience of victims at the heart of our recommendations, of practice and of policy.
  2. It makes the case for mainstreaming funding for IDVAs and MARACs
  3. It shows how putting IDVAs in hospital settings could help identify 10,000 high risk victims and their children who are getting no support today
  4. It includes the first substantial information on the abuse suffered by teenagers – a group who will become more visible with the change in the definition of domestic abuse to include 16 and 17 year olds.
  5. It highlights the impact of domestic abuse on children and gives commissioners simple actions to address this.
  6. It is aimed at local commissioners – those with the responsibility and the funding to address the problems.
  7. It gives clear objective evidence which we hope will underpin local and national policy.
  8. And it is part of a body of data that is growing every year so there is CAADA Insights 2, 2013 to look forward to!

I would really like to thank those practitioners who use the CAADA Insights service and our early funders who had the vision to back this approach before its benefits and value were really visible.  And also the fantastic team at CAADA who have worked day (and all too often at night) to put this together.

Please make sure your local commissioners know that this is now available – it could make all the difference.  You can download the report from our website at http://bit.ly/XkJXy6

Despite my best efforts #aPOGS may not be trending yet on Twitter…but there is still time….

January 30, 2012

Protecting Our Children – a snapshot from Children’s Social Workers

Interesting suggestion for my blog from the Head of Services at Berkshire East and South Bucks Women’s Aid, Delia Donovan – which coincides with the broadcast tonight on the BBC of a new series about social workers in Bristol called ‘Protecting Our Children’.  If you get a chance to watch it, please do comment here or via Twitter or the CAADA Facebook page.  We are working with 3 other organisations, on a new tool for IDVAs to help identify opportunities for earlier intervention and support for children living with domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health issues.  It is still in draft but I will write more here about it when it is ready.

Anyway, see below for the latest results from a survey of social workers – not surprising but troubling all the same.

read more »

December 18, 2011

Wired – How abuse changes a child’s brain

Thanks to Andrea Thorley Baines from Blackpool for sending me this article from Wired.com about the impact of abuse on a child’s brain.  This builds on research by others such as Felicity de Zulueta (‘From Pain to Violence’) and is crucial for all of us to take into account when working with families affected by abuse.  Of course, there are other factors which will influence the outcomes for a child – but equally this cannot be ignored.

How Abuse Changes a Child’s Brain

The brains of children raised in violent families resemble the brains of soldiers exposed to combat, psychologists say.

They’re primed to perceive threat and anticipate pain, adaptations that may be helpful in abusive environments but produce long-term problems with stress and anxiety.

read more »

December 1, 2011

Child protection volunteers help children and save money study finds

Congratulations to CSV for the early outcomes of their work with families with children on the child protection register.  See below for an article from Community Care which highlights their human and financial impact.

Child protection volunteers help children and save money study finds

A project using volunteers in child protection cases has seen risk levels for children decrease in more than three-quarters of cases new research has shown.

The research by Anglia Ruskin University on the use of child protection volunteers in Southend since March 2010 found that in 87% of cases the levels of risk had decreased as indicated by child assessment framework (CAF) levels.

Of the 64 families involved in the project, including 37 on child protection plans, 11 had been removed from child protection plans altogether while seven families reported improved school attendance.

Even after taking account of the costs of running the scheme, researchers found the scheme had resulted in savings to the council of £143,644.

read more »

November 13, 2011

Ages of Concern – Social Workers underestimate the ‘fragility’ of babies – from Community Care

Social workers underestimate the ‘fragility’ of babies

Social workers and other professionals are not always quick enough in their response to concerns about children under a year old because they underestimate the fragility of babies, according to an evaluation of serious case reviews.

The finding comes from an analysis of 482 SCRs – evaluated by Ofsted between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2011 – concerning 602 children, including 210 babies under one. It is included in a thematic report, Ages of Concern, published today by the watchdog to highlight key lessons learned from SCRs involving vulnerable groups – babies under one and children over 14.

read more »

November 8, 2011

Social Services have both statutory and common law duty to protect children from abuse

Interesting judgement highlighted by the UK Human Rights blog.  Note that the local authority should take steps to safeguard a child’s welfare where they suspect that the child is at risk  – where it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to do so.  So does highlighting the risks at a MARAC constitute making it ‘reasonably practicable’.

 

Social Services have both statutory and common law duty to protect children from abuse

ABB & Ors v Milton Keynes Council [2011] EWHC 2745 (QB)- read judgment

Justin Levinson of 1 Crown Office Row acted for the claimants in this case. He is not the author of this post.

This case concerned the entitlement to compensation for the years of abuse the claimants, three brothers a sister, the youngest, who had suffered at the hands of their father. The older claimants had both suffered regular abuse from an early age until late teens. The third claimant escaped the prolonged abuse suffered by his brothers. The fourth claimant, who was conceived after the defendant social services became aware of the situation, nevertheless endured abuse for five or six years.

The father’s abuse of the older boys came to light in 1992 when the first three claimants were placed on the child protection register and the father moved out of the family home. However charges against him were subsequently dropped and he returned home. The names were removed from the register but the abuse continued.

The facts were not disputed but the principal issue between the parties was that of the quality of social work practice adopted by the defendants’ employees and whether this fell below a reasonable standard.

Statutory and common law negligence

The statutory basis of the defendants’ duties is set out in Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.  Put simply, that section requires any local authority, which suspects that a child in its area is at risk, should take steps to safeguard the child’s welfare. However this duty only arises if it is within the authority’s power and it is “reasonably practicable”  for them to do so. The section does not, in itself, provide a civil cause of action for those who assert that the duty has not been complied with.  There is in addition to the statutory duty a common law – or judge-made – basis for the duty of care in the event of suspected child abuse is to be found in  D and others v East Berkshire Community Health [2003] EWCA Civ 1151.

Read the full post at Social Services have both statutory and common law duty to protect children from abuse « UK Human Rights Blog.

 

October 12, 2011

New Funding for Young people with irregular immigration status – Supported Options Fund

I received this information about new funding which might be of interest to IDVA services.  See below for details about how to apply.

The Supported Options Fund has been established by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy as a ‘Special Initiative’ to provide support and advice to young people and children in the UK who have irregular immigration status.

We are now inviting expressions of interest from organisations who may wish to apply to this Fund, which is open to those anywhere in the UK.

The closing date for expressions of interest, which should be a maximum of 6 pages, is 5 pm on 15th November 2011.

Full details of the aims and approach, and how to apply, are attached.

If you have queries or need more information, please email Sarah Cutler, Initiative Coordinator at undoc@phf.org.uk

 

 

Attachments

 

October 2, 2011

What is the opposite of early intervention?

Sadly, it is a homicide review – in this case child death reviews.  So it is really depressing to read that one of the biggest increases in council budgets this year is for child death reviews – up 141% to £16.3 million.  That is an increase of about £10 million.  And £10 million clearly wouldn’t transform early intervention, but somewhere all this is false economy.

July 29, 2011

Moving from planet to planet

On our new CPD course which looks at safeguarding children living with DV, we talk about the ‘3 planets’ theory developed by Professor Marianne Hester.  This theory highlights how differently a single family is regarded on the domestic violence planet (victim is central, perpetrator is held responsible for their actions, children are not very visible), the child protection planet (victim often held responsible, perpetrator is often invisible and children are central) and the child contact planet (victim and perpetrator are treated equally, children are central).  We spend most of our lives on the domestic abuse ‘planet’ and can often be heard to say that those who ‘live’ on the other planets, just ‘don’t understand’.

One of the things that has been revealing on this training, has been how valuable it is to start to understand how the planets interpret the same situations, and why they see things differently.  We have just been assessing the work of the last course and one comment really struck us.  The practitioner concerned highlighted the following:

The course ‘gave me a chance to focus on quality of my referrals to children’s social care concentrating on the effects of the abuse on the children. This was a steep learning curve as previously I had been so centred on the ‘domestic abuse planet’ (Hester, 2004) my referrals prior to this process tended to forget that the idea was to focus on safeguarding the children, but instead was more generalised about the whole situation.

Completing the work around referrals has provided me with the confidence to challenge children’s social care about rejected referrals but also has given me the knowledge to look back at my referrals and amend and re-refer, resulting in some cases being opened by children’s social care, purely due to me providing more accurate and child focused information.

For so long we have read the serious case reviews that highlight the ‘professional optimism’ of practitioners working with the adult, and our research Safety in Numbers again showed that over 25% of children living with domestic abuse experienced direct threats of harm – 11% with direct threats to kill.  Feedback like that above gives us hope that this might show a way to narrow this gap.