Health & Well-being24th April 2015

Concerns raised over the protection of deaf children as report finds them ‘invisible’ to local authority social care teams

NDCS Report highlights the plight of Deaf children

by Sarah Lawrence

NDCS Press Release

Local Authorities in England are failing to identify and meet the social care needs of deaf children and their families, a report by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has found.

Despite the fact that deaf children are more than twice as likely to experience abuse, mental health problems and underachievement at school, a high proportion are not receiving the support they are entitled to. 

The study reveals that 49% of the 141 local authority social care teams surveyed do not include deafness as one of the criteria that allows children to have their care needs assessed. However, deaf children are defined by law as "children in need" and therefore have a legal right to be assessed for local authority support.

Susan Daniels, CEO of the National Deaf Children’s Society said,“Deaf children are at significant risk of failing to develop and achieve their full potential if they are not provided with the right support from social care services from the start."

“Local authorities have a duty to provide services to support disabled children and their families and failing to do so will have serious long-term consequences for many deaf children."

“It is therefore vital that children’s social care services have arrangements to recognise and respond to the needs of deaf children so that they stay safe and thrive.”

The report, the first detailed survey of social care provision for deaf children since 2010, identified only 2designated social workers for deaf children across the whole of England to serve the 35,000 deaf children in the country. This means, in many cases, responsibility is falling to education professionals, who may not have experience in deafness, to identify and meet the needs of deaf children.

  • 40% of local authority social care teams could not identify the numbers of deaf children receiving social care services; and
  • Ten local authorities reported having no arrangements in place for deaf awareness and safeguarding disabled children training for the social care teams.

NDCS is now calling on local authorities to take action to improve services for deaf children and ensure that arrangements are in place to properly consider and respond to their care needs.

The full report on social care support for deaf children in England (2014) is available at:

NDCS has produced a range of resources to support local authorities in meeting the social care needs of deaf children, and these are available on their website.

The Stolen Futures Campaign is calling for a halt to cuts that are happening in services for deaf children. More information about that campaign can also be found on the NDCS website.

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Health & Well-being

24th April 2015