FoI investigation reveals thousands of 'missed opportunities' to help children

Tens of thousands of children a year are missing out on vital early help support, only to be referred again to social care within 12 months, Freedom of Information requests have revealed.

The investigation by charity Action for Children highlights at least 320,000 “missed opportunities” to provide early help to children between 2015/16 and 2019/20 – an average of 64,000 children a year.

Nine in 10 local authorities report cutting spending on early intervention services between 2015 and 2020.

When children are referred to social services for an assessment but do not meet the threshold for social care support, social workers have the option to close the assessment and make a “step down” referral to early help.

Based on its Freedom of Information request to local authorities across England, Action for Children estimates there were 1.26 million occasions where a closed assessment did not lead to an early help referral.

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