At risk children 'possibly more vulnerable' during summer holidays, Wakefield Council meeting told

The number of referrals to children's services falls in August.
The number of referrals to children's services falls in August.

Children in Wakefield at risk of harm may be more vulnerable during the summer holidays than at other times of the year, a council manager has said.

Vicky Schofield, service director for children and young people, said it was possible that warning signs a youngster is coming to harm may be missed, because they are not in day-to-day touch with their schools and teachers.

Wakefield Town Hall

Wakefield Town Hall

But she stressed there was no concrete evidence to suggest it, and that the cases taken on by the department in September did not indicate it was a problem.

Councillor David Jones, who chairs Wakefield's children and young people scrutiny committee, quoted a report which suggested the number of new referrals to children's services declines in August.

That report, which was discussed by the committee on Wednesday, has yet to be made public.

Coun Jones said: "The number of referrals do dip over the summer holidays. Does that lead to children being more vulnerable in that time?"

Ms Schofield responded: "It's possible I guess, because some signs of harm that may be picked up by teachers during term time, may be missed because it's the school holidays.

"But I'm not sure there's any concrete evidence that that's the case, and based on the work we do in September as well there's nothing really to suggest that.

"The vast majority of children referred to our services have come to a level of vulnerability or harm over a period of time (rather than a one-off incident).

"The data we have suggests that 89 to 95 per cent are exposed to cumulative harm."

Ms Schofield told the committee that communication between schools and social workers is strong and teachers "know where they need to go" to make reports concerning pupils they fear may be at risk of harm.

Local Democracy Reporting Service