Four children are seeking £200,000 in damages from Swansea Local Authority over claims that Social Services did not protect them from their abusive parent’s despite being known to Social Workers for “quite some time”.
Information provided alleges that the children had witnessed their parents snort cocaine. On one occasion the mother had refused to take one of the children to hospital despite having breathing difficulties. The child was later escorted to hospital by police. Whilst one child is thought to have still been wearing nappies aged seven.
The children were eventually removed and placed into foster care. However, Lawyers acting on the children’s behalf, argue that the Local Authority should have done more to protect them from “physical and emotional abuse and neglect which they were subjected to” due to the Social Services delayed response.
If successful, this case will set a precedent for other children and young people who believe they also have been failed by their Local Authority.
With Social Services already stretched to overcapacity and with continued issues of staff recruitment and retention, this will therefore be a very anxious time for a number of council leaders across England and Wales.
However, if this case is successful, I do think there could be a positive outcome. As ever, we as front-line staff continue to struggle with the large volumes of work without little, or limited, support. As Social Workers how many of us have felt that we needed more time to invest in our Service Users in order to promote positive change? How many times have we been asked by managers or decision makers to “close the case” and move on to the next due to the stacking of case referrals despite the need for further work/intervention?
Well, if the children are successful in suing Swansea Council for £200,000, you can bet your bottom dollar that Local Authorities won’t be so quick in closing cases early – they may even respond quicker. This might actually mean we will be asked to do “real” Social Work – the kind where we actually deliver front-line intervention work with Service Users for a sustained periods.
We will keep you updated with the latest involving this case.