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Professional support given to Halton families as abuse referrals rise
A SIGNIFICANT rise in alleged domestic violence, neglect, sexual and physical abuse in Halton has been revealed in a council report.
But child safety chiefs say many of the referrals turned out to be less serious and gave social workers the chance to work with families to prevent children being at risk.
In March, there were 47 referrals of suspected abuse in Widnes, compared to 31 earlier in the year. In Runcorn the figures rose from 42 to 62.
The rise in high profile celebrity abuse cases has led to much more public awareness.
Tracey Coffey, Halton Council’s operational director for children and families, said: “I welcome the increased referrals because it means we can reach more children who may need our support.
“There is also a new definition of domestic violence. It can be controlling and coercive behaviour. If a child is present and can hear an argument, there could be an emotional impact. It doesn’t have to be someone throwing a punch.”
Social workers, she said, support parents and set realistic targets to help families to function better.
She added: “It’s about building blocks. It is a very very tough job being a parent.
“One of our strengths is that we offer informal support to all agencies.
“If there is something anyone is worried about, they can discuss it with us without disclosing names and details and we can advise if it needs taking any further.”
Clr Ged Philbin, board member for children and families, said: “This is a very complex area. Early intervention is crucial. We work closely with schools.
“We want to build good relationships and work with families to prevent children being at risk.”
Children’s social care is moving to one dedicated team at the end of September.
The six monthly report was presented to the children, young people and families policy and performance board on Monday evening.
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