20th April 2023
BeyondAutism was deeply shocked and saddened by the findings of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel Phase 1 report and welcome’s the recommendations published today. The Phase 2 report of the national review into safeguarding children with disabilities and complex health needs in residential settings addresses the allegations of abuse and neglect of 108 children and young adults attending three residential settings run by the Hesley Group.
While some immediate actions were taken after the Phase 1 report, it was clear that an urgent review was needed of the wider safeguarding system. The findings of this review are presented in the Phase 2 report, along with national recommendations ensuring children with complex health needs and disabilities are kept safe and supported to thrive.
82% of those children identified in the Phase 1 report are autistic, 76% have learning disabilities, and the majority are non-speaking. The report recognises that the voice and experiences of this group of children are too often marginalised or misinterpreted, and their wishes and those of their families not truly understood. This has in some way contributed to the signs of abuse being missed or not recognised. As a society, we need to find better ways to strengthen their voice, and take the time to understand them, and engage with them using their chosen method of communication.
The report puts forward recommendations that offer a new way to determine a child’s wishes and involve them fully in their care; this involves finding better ways to strengthen their voice and taking the time to understand what they are telling us, whatever form of communication they choose to use.
At BeyondAutism we echo these sentiments. We work hard to ensure that every learner in our settings finds and is able to use their preferred way to communicate. This is pivotal to true person-centred planning and care, essential for every child to be successful in their education.
We can support the government, Local Authorities and other organisations to act quickly, so that together we can ensure that systemic change happens, and that the children’s voices are finally heard.
View the full report here.