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Working Together defines neglect as “The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.

Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
  • protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers)
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
  • provide suitable education

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs."


It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child's basic emotional needs, such as providing emotional warmth, nurture or developing health attachments.

Neglect cannot be defined as a one-off incident such as seeing an untidy kitchen while on a visit. It typically arises where there is an ongoing failure of a parent or carer to provide for the basic physical and psychological care needs of a child. 

The impact of neglect may become prevalent over a sustained period of time with evidence to support concerns usually gathered from a number of agencies/professionals. It is therefore important for professionals to keep a focus on the child’s journey from needing to receive effective protection from neglect (and abuse).

In trying to define neglect we need to understand:

  • Neglect is something that is persistent and cumulative and occurs over time with little change, despite intervention.
  • That while neglect might occur within a family perceived to be living in poverty, the children at the greatest risk are those who live in families in which the parents’ own emotional impoverishment is so great that they actually do not know how to parent, do not understand their children’s needs and despite intensive intervention cannot provide for their needs.
  • When considering the risk of neglect in relation to an unborn child, the neglect of a parent's own health or poor self-care not only can define the significant of risk and concern for a child’s development in the womb, but it can also provide a barometer for the likelihood of harm once the child is born.

Although professionals may be worried about a child, it’s not always easy to identify neglect. There’s often no single sign that a child or family need help. Neglect is the most common reason for professionals taking child protection action.

Practitioners should be aware that neglect can be life threatening and needs to be treated with as much urgency as other categories of maltreatment and is not confined to the youngest children occurring across all ages.

A simple and helpful way to view neglect is to consider the needs of children and whether or not their parents or carers are consistently meeting such needs. If not, then neglect may very well be an issue.

If you have concerns that a child is being neglected, please contact:

Graded Care Profile 2 (GCP2)

Graded Care Profile 2 (GCP2) is a tool used across Bedfordshire to assess, measure and support families where there are concerns regarding neglect.

The original GCP was a tool designed in 1995 to provide an objective measure of the care of the children. The GCP model is primarily based on the qualitative measure of the commitment shown by parents or carers in meeting their children’s developmental needs.

It is a tool that we will be using to assess, measure and support families where there are concerns regarding neglect.

It is an assessment tool that will highlight the areas of strength and the areas that will require further, more specific targeted support.

GCP2 training is available in each local authority area. You must have completed accredited training to lead a GCP2 assessment, however without the training, you can still take an active role and contribute to the GCP2 assessment process.

Contact your local area to discuss GCP2 training opportunities.

Additional information and resources about the Graded Care Profile 2:

Pan Beds video on the Graded Care Profile


Neglect Training

Safeguarding Bedfordshire offers a wide range of safeguarding themed training, including 'Understanding Neglect' a one-day class-based session, and 'Child Poverty' free eLearning.

Local resources

Pan Bedfordshire Neglect Strategy 2023-2026

The Pan Beds Procedures website has a more detailed area for neglect; Neglect overview 

For a full list of resources, click here and scroll down to section 3.5. Some examples have been highlighted below; these have all been agreed for Pan Bedfordshire use, including multi-agency practice guidance for recognising and responding to cases of child neglect. The Pan Beds Escalation Procedures are designed to support you if you experience disagreement between agencies.

Bedfordshire Safeguarding Adults Policy and Procedures (section 7) covers Hoarding Guidance and Tools, including photographic clutter scales (p.41) to help practitioners to communicate levels of clutter within the home environment.

Neglect Briefings Collection A range of practitioner briefings covering themes such as neglect, GCP2, childhood obesity and oral health. The Neglect Screening Tool briefing and Neglect Screening Tool and GCP2 overview video (Bedfordshire) and briefing offer insight into the range of assessment tools available to support our practice.

Day in the Life Tools- Baby, Pre-Schooler, Primary and Teenager. These tools provide prompts for practitioners when engaging in a series of conversations/ assessments to explore and understand lived experience. The questions can be selected as appropriate and adapted to suit the communication needs of the child, young person and their parent/ carer. It is not intended that that all sections are answered in a single conversation. Information provided will need to be triangulated with the direct observations of practitioners and information from a range of sources. The Pan Beds Pre-Birth Assessment may also be considered where there are concerns of Neglect (and/ or other factors) before baby is born.

Neglect campaign and resources

The Neglect Matters campaign launched in 2018 aimed to raise awareness of neglect with free awareness sessions for professionals in Luton, Central Bedfordshire and Bedford. For more information, please click on the links below:

Neglect Campaign Posters - Bedfordshire Neglect Matters Campaign

Neglect Matters Young People’s Booklet - Bedfordshire Neglect Matters Campaign

National information

Index of all pages: