Saturday, 26 May 2007

FAMILY SNAPSHOT: Corey Raine with his mum Sarah Allison who killed him while suffering from post-natal depression. Right, Sunderland's social services director John Marsden.
SOCIAL workers "failed to fully understand" the impact of a disturbed teenage mother's mental state which led to her battering her baby to death.
John Marsden, director of social services at Sunderland City Council, today admitted that staff did not recognise signs that Sarah Allison had deep-rooted problems and may have needed more support.Mr Marsden's comments came after the publication of the Area Child Protection Committee's (ACPC) report into the death of Allison's six-month-old son Corey Raine.Corey suffered extensive injuries and multiple fractures to his head after Allison, 19, banged him against a wall at home in Windsor Crescent, Houghton, on April 12, last year, while suffering from post-natal depression "of a marked degree".She is now serving four years divided between hospital and a young offenders' institute after pleading guilty to infanticide.During her trial at Newcastle Crown Court it emerged that Corey was on the child protection at-risk register.A social worker who visited Corey two days before he died had reported no concerns.The ACPC report stated that quality of assessment in health and social services "sometimes fell below the best standards for assessment work".This meant there was a focus on "practical and material support and responding to crises in the family, rather than on a good understanding of the protection issues in this case".Mr Marsden said Corey was primarily placed on the at-risk register because his father, Philip Raine, 30, was classed as a schedule one offender. Staff had focused on Mr Raine and provided practical support for the family, he added. As a result, they had missed signs from Allison's childhood. She had been involved with care services in Stockton-on-Tees
from a young age, before moving to Wearside. Mr Marsden said: "The full impact of Sarah's disturbed and unhappy childhood and the impact of the depression after the birth were not fully understood." "The real problem was what the staff involved didn't realise was the full impact of her rather sad and difficult background." He added that there had been no justification for taking Corey into care and that no one was to predict that Allison's depression would lead to her son's death. A shake-up of child care within social services has now taken place which will see less experienced or less qualified social workers reporting back to more experienced "supervisors" in a bid to identify problems such as those suffered by Allison. The report added that "individual managers should be held to account for poor practice in this case and the necessary action is presently on-going to determine this

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