Reforms ‘To Fail Abused Children’

Planned legislation to reform the care system fails to ensure abused children receive vital therapy, according to a child-protection charity.

The Children and Young Persons Bill was in danger of “failing children in care”, the NSPCC said.

Routine health checks given to children taken into care did not do enough to tackle mental trauma, the charity said.

The government said children have physical and mental health checks when they enter care.

The NSPCC said 62% of children were in care because of abuse or neglect.

“Only young people displaying extreme signs of depression and distress are likely to receive mental health services – but the impact of abuse rarely presents such textbook symptoms,” the NSPCC’s Natalie Cronin said.

Ms Cronin called for a specialist therapeutic assessment to be part of the routine health check.

She said without early intervention, children in care could face a lifetime of struggle with their emotional health.

“Without treatment, the long-term side effects of abuse can continue well into adulthood and include anxiety, depression and difficulty functioning at work.”

The charity also wants independent advocates to stand up for the rights of children in care.

“Independent advocates give children a voice in the adult world of social services,” Ms Cronin said.

The bill is about to have its second reading in the Lord’s.

A DCSF spokeswoman said all children who enter care have emotional and mental health assesments.

She added: “We have announced £60 million to support schools to work with mental health practitioners and improve the emotional wellbeing of vulnerable pupils, and we are rolling out the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning programme in all schools.”