The WSSCP Neglect Strategy 2016-19 outlines the partnership’s approach to tackling neglect in West Sussex. The strategy provides all professionals, both operational and strategic; with information they need to frame and direct their work with families experiencing neglect.

The signs of neglect and its effects

Neglect can sometimes have obvious signs, though often it can take years for emotional and psychological symptoms to become apparent. In West Sussex we categorise neglect into four types: emotional neglect, disorganised neglect, depressed / passive neglect, severe deprivation neglect. See the Four types of neglect for a description of each type.

Why does it happen?

There are occasions when nearly all parents find it difficult to cope with the many demands of caring for children. But this does not mean that their children are being neglected, it’s more that the parents could do with some support.

It is often not easy to pinpoint one specific reason why child neglect happens, it occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education. But there are some more common problems among adult carers that are associated with neglect of children. These include:

  • domestic violence
  • parental mental health problems
  • substance abuse, for example alcoholism
  • parents with their own personal history of child neglect.

What effect can neglect have on a child?

Whether or not the neglect of a child’s needs is intentional, it can still have a serious and lasting effect on a child’s physical, mental and emotional development and can even be life threatening. Some children are particularly vulnerable, for example, a very young child, or a child with disabilities. However it is important to remember that adolescents can also experience neglect.

Neglected children may:

  • be slow to learn to walk and talk
  • be very passive and unable to be spontaneous
  • have feeding problems and grow slowly
  • find it hard to develop close relationships
  • be over friendly with strangers
  • get on badly with other children of the same age
  • be unable to play imaginatively
  • think badly of themselves
  • be easily distracted and do badly at school.

There are various tools to understand neglect. In West Sussex the following has been agreed:

  • Universal services that have infrequent contact with children will use the interagency referral form to pass on any child protection concerns to children’s social care.
  • Universal and targeted services that have regular contact with or intense but irregular contact, and those who work predominantly with children will use the Neglect Identification and Measurement Tool (NIMT)
  • In West Sussex, children’s social care will use the Graded Care Profile (GCP) when a child under the age of 11 has a child in need or child protection plan to address neglect. The lead social worker will work with core group members to complete the tool and agree a plan, which will be regularly reviewed.

Supporting document

Neglect Flyer

Neglect Identification Measurement Tool (NIMT)

Our other neglect documents are under review and will be available again shortly