Child deaths prompt social services probe

The death of several children under the care of social workers in the Netherlands has prompted a major investigation into the country’s childcare services.

The probe will in particular look at the effect of staff shortages and structural shortcomings. The investigation will be carried out by the Safety Research Council headed by Pieter van Vollenhoven and is due to be completed next year.
One of the children who died while under social service supervision was three-year-old Savanna, who died in 2004 weighing just 10 kilos. The social worker in charge of her case is to be prosecuted.
In another case earlier this month, a five-year-old boy was killed by his mother despite warnings to social workers by his weekday foster parents.
Hans Nieukerke, head of childcare services at the social workers’ organisation MBO, said he was surprised by the safety council’s involvement. But he said that he was not afraid of criticism as long as it was underpinned by facts.
‘If the research is done properly, we will all benefit. More importantly, parents and children will benefit,’ he said.
A number of social service departments claim they do not have enough staff to do their job properly. Some family social workers are handling up to 25 cases a week.

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