Are social services being swamped by unnecessary child protection referrals?
That’s the question being asked by Speaker Steve Rodan who has tabled a raft of questions to Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw at this week’s Tynwald sitting.
His concerns follow the revelation that there were 959 child referrals to social services in 2011-12 of which only 60 resulted in child protection cases.
Mr Rodan told the Examiner: ‘There appears to be a lot of unnecessary referrals.
‘The danger is it catches families up unnecessarily with social services which is traumatic and it results in social services being swamped by a lot of low level cases.’
He pointed out that the number of referrals was proportionately more than in England and was almost as many as the number of children born in the island in a year.
The Speaker suggested that social workers were adopting a policy of ‘when in doubt, refer’.
Mr Robertshaw and his department’s chief executive Yvette Mellor were quizzed about the figures when they gave evidence to the Social Affairs policy review committee in July.
The Minister told the committee: ‘We have to tread very carefully as any failure could be catastrophic.’ Ms Mellor pointed out some children are subject to more than one referral but from different agencies.
In Tynwald, Mr Rodan will ask for details of numbers of referrals in the last 12 months, broken down by type of case.