Sunday 23 October 2016

Premature baby died on night his family was evicted from home

Serina Sandhu

Published 15/10/2015 | 07:23

Stock photo: Thinkstock
Stock photo: Thinkstock

A premature baby died on the night his family was evicted from their social housing after falling into rent arrears, a serious case review has found.

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The damning review ruled a series of organisations that should have been helping the family did not appear to understand the potential consequences of evicting them.

The baby, named ‘John’ in the report, was 10 weeks old when he, his parents and sister were evicted from their social housing after falling into rent arrears, ITV News reports.

On the night of the eviction, John, born six weeks early, had been taken downstairs for feeding at his grandparents’ house and died after sleeping on the sofa with one of his parents.

An open verdict was recorded by the coroner in September 2013.

The review from Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) was carried out because of the baby’s circumstances and contact with agencies as a 'child of need', not because of maltreatment.

The organisations involved included social services, the housing association, NHS workers and the Citizen’s Advice, ITV News reported.

Joanna Nicolas, an independent report author, said: “The agencies working with this family had not fully understood the issues at the heart of the case, and could have done more to mitigate the impact of the family’s eviction.”

According to the BBC, she said the report also found “there was confusion about the extent of the lead professional’s role during the child’s assessment period”.

David Peplow, chair of the WSCB, said: “This is a deeply saddening case and on behalf of the board we express our heartfelt sympathies to the family for the loss of their child.”

Mr Peplow said: “A number of agencies were in contact with the family and, although child protection issues were not a causative factor in John’s death, we feel that there is important learning for all agencies from this case.”

He added: “We want agencies both in Warwickshire and nationally to learn from this case and improve practice.”

Following the review, the WSCB said the housing association involved now held internal case reviews ahead of evictions.

The review has also led to more training for professionals and for the future development of a multi-agency safeguarding hub.

(© Independent News Service)

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