Neglect Prompts

Things to think about when you are working with families experiencing neglect

I can’t seem to get the family to understand what I am concerned about…

 Try the following:

  • Seek support at an early opportunity from your manager or named safeguarding lead. Talk through the case and your concerns and agree whether there are any different techniques that could be used.
  • Think of creative ways to discuss the issues you are concerned about.
  • Produce individual cards with a concern written on each one. Ask the family to prioritise them. Leave them with the family to think about.
  • Ask the family why they think you are visiting and use their response as a springboard to talk about issues.
  • If you have been involved with the family for a long time and you feel that when you talk about issues you are no longer making an impact, try and visit with a colleague to produce a new way of talking about the same things.
  • Be mindful of level of cognitive ability of the family and adjust your language accordingly (particularly relevant with families with significant learning disabilities).


It’s hard to effect change and work with issues of neglect within this family because sometimes parenting is ‘good enough’ and sometimes it isn’t…..

Try the following:

  • Review the case with your manager / named safeguarding lead. Consider the case in relation to the criteria in the Neglect Thresholds Chart and establish whether there is a need for any additional support, such as an Early Help Assessment.
  • Share chronologies between agencies who are working with the child / family.
  • Use this to review the multi-agency plan if there is one in place already.
  • Establish whether there is any pattern to decline or triggers that can be identified.
  • Consider the likely long-term outcome for the children without change and the impact of this. Use this to inform the plan (if in place) or discussions with the family.
  • Be clear about the outcomes sought.
  • Be clear on timescales for improvements
  • Be mindful to use the same criteria with children with additional needs.


The family had shown that they do know and understand what good parenting is……. But they don’t do it consistently…

Try the following

  • Look for and require consistency; it is common for parents who have received support and services such as parenting skills programmes to have knowledge of what good parenting is. Often parents can talk about what they should be doing with their children and a lot of the time they demonstrate an ability to provide good enough care, however they are not always able to do this consistently.
  • Consider involving individuals who can act as role models to parents, preferably in the home. There may be resources within the extended family for this. The aim of this exercise would be to have someone who is able to spend significant periods of time in the home assisting and guiding parenting. It might mean helping a young mother or father to safely bath a baby. Or helping a family to understand the necessity for good hygiene in the kitchen.
  • Keep the needs of the children in focus. Talk to the children and find out what their experiences are, e.g. what a day in their life is like (there are some examples included within this toolkit).
  • When you know that parents can care adequately some of the time it becomes harder to remain objective and there could be a tendency to err on the side of optimism. Record carefully when the dips in parenting occur and compile chronologies of accidents and issues around poor supervision.
  • Bear in mind that there has been a tendency to use a different criteria with regards to neglect for disabled children. The criteria should be the same.


There is a plan in place but I remain concerned for the child’s safety. I can’t seem to get the family to understand what I am concerned about….

Try the following:

  • Discuss your concerns with your line manager, the named person within you organisation who has responsibility for child protection, or, where the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, the Chair of the Child Protection Conference.
  • Ask for the review to be brought forward.
  • Produce a multi-agency chronology.
  • Reflect on concerns in relation to the child and parent and the effectiveness of the current plan.
  • Use tools/resources to consolidate concerns.
  • Seek legal advice about commencing the Public Law Outline (Social Care staff only).


The plan doesn’t seem to be working, the family isn’t co-operating – I feel ‘stuck’

Try the following:

  • Review what you have done so far to engage the family – what has been most successful? What has been least successful and why?
  • Discuss the case with your line manager or safeguarding supervisor.
  • If there are practical issues blocking progress attempt to resolve these. It may be that the home environment is so chaotic when you visit that you are unable to complete any assessment. If this is the case, plan carefully how you can assess the family in these circumstances.
  • Resolve some of these practical issues that may be distracting the family (although be aware to the possibility that they are not being used as excuses to distract you).
  • Think about what the family most likes to talk about, for example, the children, themselves, housing issues. Structure your visit and allow them 10 minutes at the beginning of the session to let off steam and then spend the remaining time looking at issues that you want to cover.
  • Plan your visits. Think carefully about what time you will visit, what you want to achieve from the visit and how you will do it.
  • Think carefully about how you are going to monitor and measure the issues of neglect. It is not acceptable to see this as ongoing activity that you cast your eyes over when visiting the family home. Use resources and tools to review change and feedback to the family what you perceive the situation to be.
  • Consider using creative ways to engage the family e.g. DVD, games.
  • Consider using a written agreement with the family.
  • Use observation as a method of gaining information and then feedback the issues to the family and engage in discussion about this.
  • Consider discussing your family within your team, possibly at a team meeting. Your colleagues may think of new ways of engaging the family or support to offer.
  • Consider having a colleague co-work with you. This will provide you with support and may also help to provide a fresh approach to the case.


There are additional or complex needs impacting upon the care givers ability to understand or retain information

  • Do the parents have a learning difficulty or poor mental health which is impacting on their cognitive abilities?  If so, professionals should be mindful of the way information is presented to the family, is the information or request presented in an accessible format.  Have you considered other ways to present the information?  Role modelling may help, the use of visual material (not just written) may support understanding.
  • Does the family have any specialist agencies working alongside them who may be able to support and reinforce the expectations – is there a learning disability team or mental health team involved, for example?