Social workers spent too much time supporting a mother and not enough on child protection leading to a young girl suffering almost two decades of physical and sexual abuse an Essex serious case review has concluded.
The child, “Agnes” was the subject of at least 200 reported incidents or concerns and was eventually taken into care.
The mother, identified as Ms T, suffered depression and was the victim of domestic violence. The report said she was also aggressive and threatening to social workers who tried to intervene.
As a result, the review said, social services allowed her to determine the flow of the case, often expressing sympathy for the mother. One professional noted in a report that “Agnes was the only child she had left”.
The report said: “There was overall a focus on support rather than protection, a consequence of the focus on Ms T’s rather than the children’s needs.”
Other issues flagged up by the SCR were different agencies failing to work together, particularly health and social care, and frequent staff turnover causing a lack of consistency throughout the case. Assessment was either non-existent or inconsistent, the report said, and social care and health agencies both failed to provide adequate case summaries and chronologies.
The SCR recommended the council agree guidance to build staff confidence in working with parents who are uncooperative or hostile to child protection intervention. The review also said the integrated children’s system should monitor the attendance of professionals at and provision of reports to child protection conferences.
Unusually, the executive summary included recommendations from previous Essex SCRs that were relevant to the case.
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