Big backlog of children at risk referalls

There is a big backlog of children at risk referrals in Northamptonshire
There is a big backlog of children at risk referrals in Northamptonshire

A culture change is needed to address a huge backlog in the number of referrals of at-risk children to social services, the county council has said.

Northamptonshire is one of the poorest performing counties in the UK for completing assessments of youngsters referred, according to Government statistics.

It completed 5,437 initial assessments out of 11,250 referrals, or about 48 per cent, in the year up to March 31.

The county is also one of the slowest at completing the assessments, taking three days longer than the national average to finish them.

Referrals are sent to the county’s social services from a number of sources, including the police and schools.

A county council spokesman said: “A problem we’re trying to address is a culture of referring every concern to social workers even when the situation doesn’t meet social care criteria.

Making social care referrals unnecessarily means bypassing the early help and prevention support that’s available.

“Last year, nearly a third of referrals did not need social care intervention. We’ve launched guidance for people who work with children and families to accurately identify the relevant level of need.”

The county council said it does not wish to deter referrals from concerned members of the public.