Social workers 'failing to listen to children'

Children in life-threatening situations are being let down by social services staff who fail to listen to their concerns, a report warns.

The report, by Ofsted, the children's services watchdog, says they place too much stress on the needs of parents. Often, they do not even see the children or listen to concerns expressed by other adults – including grandparents.

The report looks at serious case reviews conducted into 93 children last year, 39 of whom died.

It contains some harrowing cases – including one where a disabled girl was locked in her bedroom by her parents overnight and found dead in the morning. In another case, a baby died of non-accidental injuries but staff were criticised for not talking to her older sister, who was obviously in distress about what was happening to her.

In a third case, a boy with autism died from smoke inhalation after being left on his own, trapped in a room without an internal door handle. Another case involved a child who died of malnutrition after being withdrawn from school to be educated at home.

"At no point were any of these children given the right to choose the location, the nature of provision or any right to consultation to express their views as part of the process," says the report.

"There was no independent access to friends, family or professional agencies: they were isolated."

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