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Deaf children and Working Together: NDCS advice to local authorities on implementing Working Together 2013 guidance with regard to promoting the wellbeing and safeguarding of deaf children

The purpose of this document is to help managers within children’s social care services implement key aspects of the Working Together (2013) guidance with regard to safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of deaf children.

Working Together sets out two key obligations on local authorities:

  • To produce local protocols for assessment once a child is referred into children’ social care (paragraphs 62 and 63).
  • To work with LSCBs and its partners to produce a threshold document on statutory and non-statutory assessments (paragraph 18).

Why additional action for deaf children is needed

  • Deaf children are legally defined as “children in need” within the Children Act 1989 but research has shown that social care largely fails to consider the needs of deaf children
  • An executive summary of a serious case review in 2011 following the death of a profoundly deaf child, highlighted the lack of knowledge around the safeguarding needs of deaf children by all professionals involved and the importance of recognising the possible social care needs of deaf children.
  • The latest inspection framework from Ofsted states that LSCBs must have an understanding of the safeguarding response to deaf and disabled children in all aspects of its functioning
  • Analysis of serious case reviews shows that 12% involved disabled children. However, disabled children represent only 3% of children subject to child protection plans. As stated in Safeguarding Disabled Children guidance (2009), this indicates that “additional action” is still needed.

Without specific arrangements to consider the social care needs of deaf children and provision of appropriate services, many deaf children are at risk of not achieving a satisfactory level of health or development.