Neglect is the most common reasons for children in the Western Trust being placed on the Child Protection Register, it has emerged.
Latest figures show that there are a total of 337 children on the Child Protection Register across Derry and the wider Trust area.
The figure was revealed during a presentation on a new 135-page ‘Corporate Parenting’ report, delivered by the Trust’s Director of Women’s and Children’s Services Kieran Downey at its December Board meeting at Altnagelvin yesterday.
The report, which focused on the first six months of the current financial year, shows that the number of children on the Protection Register has actually dropped from 390 back at the end of March 2016.
Mr Downey said the number of children on the register per head of the youth population in the west- 39 in every 10,000, was much lower than the average of 49 per 10,000.
He said that a lot of significant work went on behind the scenes in relation to the local children on the register, and that more local children ended up being taken off the register, and less being re-registered, than in other areas.
Of the hundreds of children on the register, 32% are there as a result of child neglect, closely followed by physical abuse (31%), with sexual abuse cases accounting for 5% and emotional abuse 7%. The rest of the children on the register would be there for a combination of reasons.
On a separate matter, Mr Downey revealed that there are now 588 children in care, up from 555 children at the end of March.
Mr Downey said the Trust had the highest incident of ‘Looked After Children’ in Northern Ireland.
He added that around 40% of these children - 252- were being cared for by relatives (kinship care), a 12% increase since March.
“We have the highest rates of growth in kinship care in Northern Ireland,” Mr Downey told the board.
The report also detailed how the number of ‘children in need’ within the Trust was deemed to have dropped dramatically from 7,391 in March 2011 to 3,632 by the end of September 2016, although around 1,000 children are today registered under Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs), accounting for part of the reduction.
Mr Downey said that the remainder of the reduction was in no small part due to the work of the eight Family Support Hubs across the west.
He also praised the dedication of local social workers and social care workers.