Neglect, abuse and being born into 'dysfunctional families' are the main reasons why more than 7,000 unborn children are placed in the category ‘children in need’. This number has almost tripled in the last eight years.
Domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, and parents with mental health problems are the main factors that lead to 400,000 ‘children in need’ at risk of health and developmental problems that often leave them ‘significantly impaired’ without extra support. In some cases, interventions are necessary; more than half of these cases include domestic violence.
The number of vulnerable pre-birth children has risen steadily from 2,630 in 2010–11, to 7,360 in 2018–19. The biggest concerns leading to risk are ‘abuse or neglect’, ‘family dysfunction’, ‘family in acute stress’, ‘parents' disability or illness’ and ‘low income’. The number of monitored pre-birth children whose safety or welfare is concerning or whose parents already face problems has also risen.
‘It is absolutely vital that councils are able to support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm, but it is also important that help is available before problems escalate,’ said a representative of the Local Government Association.
Of all the cases of ‘children in need’, 0.4% can be connected to faith or belief, including belief in witchcraft or ‘spirit possession’.