Ofsted warns of abuse risks to disabled children
Disabled children in England need better protection against neglect or abuse, suggests a report by children's and education watchdog Ofsted.
The report says disabled children are more likely to be victims of abuse, but are less likely to have a child-protection plan to safeguard them.
Ofsted's report was based on a survey of cases in 12 local authorities.
Inspectors say that a lower standard of care for children with disabilities is unacceptable.
Ofsted looked at 173 cases involving children with disabilities and found that problems were not always recognised or dealt with quickly enough.
Inspectors found good examples of support for families - but in some cases the focus was on helping parents rather than protecting children.
The report says that poor care sometimes amounted to neglect.
There were cases of children missing school and medical appointments, living in poor conditions, receiving an inadequate diet or not receiving the assistance available for health problems.
Parents did not always recognise the help that children needed, the report suggests.
Ofsted says local authorities and safeguarding-children boards needed to work together to make sure that children with disabilities receive the help they needed.
Its deputy chief inspector, John Goldup, said: "Inspectors saw some fantastic examples of good early multi-agency support for children and their families.
"But in some cases the focus on support for parents and their children seemed to obscure the child's need for protection.
"The report highlights the need for greater awareness among all agencies of the potential child-protection needs of disabled children, for better and more co-ordinated assessments, and for more effective monitoring by local safeguarding-children's boards.
"We cannot accept a lower standard of care and protection for disabled children than we expect for all our children."
David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said: "Of course, no child should remain in an unsafe environment.
"However, in cases where the situation is not clear-cut, social workers face incredibly tough decisions.
"Clearly there is more work to be done to make sure there is common understanding and effective communication between local partners so that all children are kept safe from harm."