Safeguarding children across services: messages from research on identifying and responding to child maltreatment: messages for professionals working in the Family Justice system

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Great Britain. Dept. for Education
Department for Education
Date of publication
1 October 2011
Research brief DFE-RB164a
Children and Young People, Families
Social welfare
Material type

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Parents who abuse and neglect their children are often struggling with problems such as poor mental health, substance and alcohol misuse, and domestic abuse. Children are at particular risk of suffering harm when these problems occur in combination and are aggravated by other stressors such as parental learning disability, financial or housing problems and lack of supportive family and social networks. Professionals need to be highly alert to the potential risk of abuse and neglect to children in these families and actively make sure that children’s developmental needs are being met. This should be routine practice. This briefing contains messages for professionals working in the Family Justice system:

  • Professionals need to avoid repeated expert assessments of parenting capacity which create further delay in decision-making and compromise children’s health and development
  • Children are better safeguarded when the courts have been involved but professionals need to ensure that court decisions and/or directions are carried out.
  • Professionals need to be aware of the research evidence that shows often care plans made by the court are either not fully implemented or not fully carried out, for a variety of reasons, to the detriment of children’s interests;. that a significant proportion of supervision orders fail; and that a very high proportion of court mandated placements with a child’s own parents break down..
  • Robust monitoring, review and feedback procedures are needed to ensure that the courts are aware of the outcomes of their decisions and the impact on children’s welfare.

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