Child professionals missed chances to intervene in family of 11-month-old starved to death by parents

Professionals missed a number of opportunities to intervene in a family in the years before the parents starved their baby to death.

A serious case review into the death of 11-month-old Kimberley Baker in April 2005, which reported on Wednesday, found many indicators of neglect of her older siblings had been apparent since 2000, but at no point was it considered formally as a child protection issue.

The review, for Swindon local safeguarding children board, said a child protection conference would have raised the family’s profile, resulted in shared information and a “clear identification of possible risks”.

Parents Neil and Alison Baker were jailed for five years each in March for Kimberley’s manslaughter.

The review found many instances of health problems among Kimberley’s older siblings, including feeding difficulties, a pattern of missed health appointments by the family, a history of depression in Alison Baker and incidents of domestic violence by Neil against Alison Baker.

In April 2002, the Baker’s health visitor expressed “grave concerns” to social services but despite the family history no child protection enquiry was undertaken. Instead, an initial assessment took place, but this focused mainly on the family’s material needs and Alison Baker’s health.

Kimberley was last seen alive by a professional in September 2004, when she was deemed to be flourishing. The review said the fact she was not seen in the seven months before her death was of “significant concern” given the family history.

It recommended all agencies provide training for practitioners in identifying indicators of neglect, work towards a shared threshold for intervention, ensure case files contain a properly-maintained chronology of events and, when working with a parent with mental health problems, assess their implications for children.

Child protection information

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