Shocking rise in number of vulnerable children in Kirklees

MORE children die in Kirklees before their first birthday than almost anywhere else in the region.

MORE children die in Kirklees before their first birthday than almost anywhere else in the region.

A report at a board meeting of NHS Kirklees found the deaths of 42 children were reported to the Kirklees Child Death Review Panel in 2009/10.

And more than 60% of the deaths were infants.

Karen Hemsworth, assistant director for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, said in her report: “Kirklees has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Yorkshire and Humber.

“The role of chromosomal, genetic and congenital anomalies in this is likely to be one of the significant factors that should be considered.”

The Child Death Review Panel collects and analyses information about the death of each child under 18 to understand how and why they died.

Clr Ken Smith, Cabinet member for young people, said: “Intra-family marriages lead to a higher rate of children with congenital problems as well as greater infant mortality.

“I think infant mortality is one of the major problems in the area. It’s one of the major problems in Kirklees.

“We’ve identified the geographical areas in which the problem is concentrated.”

These areas were not disclosed.

The number of vulnerable young people known as looked-after children has shot up by 30% in just three years.

In October 2007 the council was caring for 435 young people, rising 12 months later to 483.

By October 2009, the figure had risen to 535, and 12 months later it was up to 566.

Clr Smith, said he believes the situation will get worse in the next few years.

The Ashbrow Labour councillor said: “Kirklees has traditionally had a lower per centage of looked-after children than the national average.

“That is still the case, even though the figures have crept up in recent years.

“I would expect the Kirklees figure to continue getting closer to the national average.”

Clr Smith believes the number of looked-after children could be rising in Kirklees because social workers are getting better at detecting abuse.

He said: “I think there’s more sensitivity to child protection issues, which means a lot more referrals and assessments.

“It could be that we’re getting better at recognising need.

“It’s a real struggle to find the extra money to look after more children. It means that other things have to be left out.”

 
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