Increase in child neglect

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DRUG-ADDICTED and drunk parents are being blamed for an increasing number of children in Fife suffering from neglect and lack of care.

The numbers of children on the Child Protection Register and in the care of the local authority are on the rise.

And the misuse of drugs and alcohol by their parents is seen as being amongst the main reasons.

Stephen Moore, Fife Council’s executive director for social work, this week reported there had been 330 child protection registrations in 2011/12 – more than double the number in 2004/05.

Mr Moore said: “Increasingly there are a number of children in need of care and protection.

“The social work service continues to work with partners to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to protect children who are identified as being at risk.

“The number of child protection registrations has risen steadily since 2004/05. This reflects high levels of identification of abuse and neglect within Fife.”

By July this year, there were 855 children being looked after by the local authority, most often due to abuse or neglect by parents, or because the child had committed an offence.

The vast majority were in community placements within Fife, enabling most of them, where possible, to 
still have the opportunity to stay in touch with their families, friends and community networks, and more able to attend their local school or an alternative school in Fife.

The number of children requiring local authority care is putting additional strain on the Council’s budget – there were 31 placements of children from birth to age five between April and July this year, compared with just 13 
for the same age group between April 2011 and March 2012.

However, Fife Council hopes additional investment in early intervention initiatives – £7.5m over the next three years, which has already been agreed ahead of setting the overall budget – will help give children a better start in life, including the estimated one in five children in Fife living in poverty.

Outlining the need for additional funding, Council leader Alex Rowley said: “Our plans focus on providing high quality pre-school education 
and working with parents and carers to influence the home environment, particularly in our most deprived areas.”