A leading child care expert in Worcestershire says victims of child abuse are being let down by a lack of appropriate counselling and support services.
Claire Richards, a senior lecturer in the University of Worcester’s Centre for Early Childhood, was responding to a report by children’s charity NSPCC, which said a huge shortfall in counselling left thousands of sexually abused young people struggling to recover.
The charity said a “postcode lottery” in provision of therapeutic services meant some youngsters waited a year for help.
The report follows an Ofsted investigation in Birmingham which found that child protection services were failing, resulting in the Goverment issuing an improvement notice to the council, asking them to report to ministers about progress being made. The council was said to be failing to hit ten out of 13 targets for the standard of care local authorities are supposed to provide for vulnerable youngsters.
Mrs Richards, the incoming chairman of the South Worcestershire Network to the Safeguarding Children Board, said: “The critical matter is that children and young people need to have immediate access to counselling and help, to talk through their experiences and concerns, moving towards recovery as part of their survival of trauma.
“It is, regrettably, a great failure to children and young people that they are effectively denied help in their time of need, considering the possible immediate and long-term impact of sexual abuse on the well-being of the child.”
She said that prolonged time spent on lengthy waiting lists frustrates and delays the process of help to initiate recovery.
“There is of course the added risk that the child or young person may never access help as they, or their family, give up on waiting.”
The University of Worcester last year launched a degree in Counselling Psychology BSc (Hons), with more than 30 students having completed the first year of the course. A higher intake is expected by course leaders this September.