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A report published today by the Children’s Commissioner for England, suggests there are 15,800 babies under the age of 1 considered by local authorities to be vulnerable or highly vulnerable and at risk of harm, but still living at home. The report comes as many local authorities are struggling with unprecedented financial pressures that are putting increasing strain on children’s social services.

The report, ‘A Crying Shame’ looks at how many babies might be vulnerable to severe harm. It shows how in March 2017, the last comprehensive local authority data available, there were 19, 640 babies under a year old identified by local authorities as being ‘in need’, largely due to risk factors in the family home. 3,820 of these babies under 1 were being looked after by local authorities, with a further 640 babies under 1 placed under special arrangements with someone other than their parents and a further 300 adopted over the year. This leaves 15,800 babies under 1 considered by local authorities to be vulnerable or highly vulnerable but still living at home in March 2017, a figure that is unlikely to be changed today. This amounts to around 100 babies per local authority. Babies appear disproportionately in Serious Case Reviews.

The Children’s Commissioner’s research also shows:

Alice Miles, the Children’s Commissioner’s Director of Strategy and author of the report, said:

“This analysis suggests there are many thousands of babies living in households carrying very high risks, many of whom may not even be known to social services. We know infants are especially vulnerable to being harmed by parental abuse or neglect. With local authorities under such pressure financially, and troubled families funding coming to an end in 2020, it’s vital that ministers make the protection of vulnerable children a priority in policy and funding. The country is rightly shocked and outraged when serious case reviews reveal the circumstances in which young children live and sometimes die; however, sadly these are the tip of the iceberg.”

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said:

“This important research shows hundreds of the most vulnerable young children are at risk of harm. As children’s services budgets come under increased pressure, we cannot just cross our fingers and hope for the best. Babies are too vulnerable and deserve better.  The Government has an opportunity in the Budget and next year’s spending review to make sure the funds are in place ensure that they are properly protected.”

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