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'Support for child victims of domestic abuse: patchy, piecemeal and precarious'

New Action for Children report published

A report from Action for Children reveals that every day in England up to 690 children are at risk of domestic violence which, it calculates, is the equivalent of over 25,000 children during the General Election period alone.
The charity says that, with evidence showing many cases go unreported, "the numbers are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg".

Action for Children's new report analysed the Department for Education's most recent Children in Need Census data. In 2018/19, there were 644,700 assessments completed by children's social care services. Of these, 498,870 identified further factors that would have contributed to a child being in need, in addition to the child's primary need (for example, abuse or neglect). 252,580, or 51 per cent of these, identified domestic violence as a factor contributing to the child being in need – higher than any other factor.

Action for Children concludes that, on average in England, there are 692 children's social care assessments carried out every day that highlight domestic violence as a feature of a child or young person's life.

The report also states that many children facing domestic abuse are living at the mercy of a 'postcode lottery' without the support they need from specialist services. The charity worked on an investigation with the University of Stirling into domestic abuse services across England and Wales, including in-depth interviews with representatives from 30 councils. This showed: 

Action for Children is urging all parties to commit to bringing back to Parliament a bill similar to the Domestic Abuse Bill, which was progressing through Parliament before dissolution.

Responding to the report, Cllr Katrina Wood, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

"Surging demand on children's services means that councils are increasingly being forced to prioritise spending for those at immediate risk of harm, rather than on vital earlier support services and prevention schemes which help stop domestic abuse occurring in the first place.

"The next government needs to ensure councils have long-term and sustainable funding to help protect children and families from harm."

For the research, click here. For a summary, click here. For comment by Action for Children, click here.