Jayden Lee Green death: Chance was missed to save toddler's life
A CHANCE to save a toddler who died from a methadone overdose by taking him into care was squandered, an independent review has found.
The report into the circumstances of Jayden Lee Green's death was published yesterday and criticised the organisations involved for failing to follow through with their actions after starting care proceedings.
It found that a "lack of clear management" meant the necessary steps were not taken in a timely way for the youngster to be taken into care, despite lawyers advising that the criteria for such proceedings had been met.
As previously reported in the Post, the toddler was almost two years old when he was found dead at the St George flat where he lived with his drug addicted parents Sonia Britton and Jamie Green in August last year.
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Tests on the toddler after his death showed that he had regularly been given methadone in the last months of his life.
His parents are serving jail sentences in connection with the toddler's death, Green for manslaughter and Britton for child cruelty and causing or allowing a child to die.
Social workers and health professionals had been monitoring the care of Jayden and his younger sibling but despite child protection procedures being in place, he remained with his parents.
The independent review, commissioned by Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, concluded that "none of the professionals involved with the family had foreseen the possibility of either child being given methadone by one or other of their parents".
It said that there is some evidence from similar reviews that parents giving children methadone and other substances, such as alcohol, to sedate their children might not be uncommon.
Child protection procedures were in place while Jayden's mother was still pregnant with him, after her community midwife referred her to children and young people's services to assess the unborn baby's safety and welfare.
Jayden then became the subject of a child protection plan the day after he was born.
Issues were raised about his parents' co-operation with the child protection plan and their lack of engagement with the drugs agency they were involved with, as well as concerns about falsified urine tests.
Involvement had decreased but after the birth of Jayden's sibling, who required a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit because of withdrawal from drugs, protection plans were put in place covering both children.
The review found that there was a lack of engagement from the family towards the relevant organisations – drug agencies, midwifery, housing, health visitors and social workers they had been referred to. It said the staff dealing with the couple should have been more authoritative and challenged Britton and Green's failure to co-operate.
But it was also noted that because there were no signs of problems with Jayden's health and development those involved in his case were "distracted" from the risks to his longer-term health and welfare and exhibited an "over optimism" when there were small positive changes.
There were also issues in the way different services communicated with each other and other organisations.
The report said: "Although the death of Child K (Jayden) could not have been predicted, there were indicators that the long-term outcomes for Child K and his sibling may have been negatively impacted by their parents' lifestyle.
"A number of the known risk factors were in evidence in this family, probably the most concerning of which was the parents' lack of will to work in an open and honest way with practitioners from all agencies.
"The extent of the parents' lack of engagement, avoidance and dishonesty grew over time and although this was recognised by practitioners there was insufficient challenge by professionals and no sustained, planned approach to protection of the children."
The review concluded: "The only way that his death would definitely have been prevented was if he had been placed away from his parents. The opportunity to do this was lost due to the failure to follow through on the initiation of care proceedings.
"However a better planned and authoritative approach to the family may also have prevented his death."
Measures had been in place for care proceedings and meetings were held but Bristol City Council's children's services team did not work with the authority's lawyers in a "timely way", which resulted in a "failure to use appropriately the only remedy that could ultimately have prevented his death".
The review included recommendations for the council's children and young people' services, legal and housing team, drug agencies, mental health, hospital and ambulance trusts, GPs across the city, pharmacies, the police and a homeless charity about how all of them could work better to ensure that child protection measures are in place.
There were also more detailed specific recommendations about how lawyers and social workers should work with their colleagues to ensure child protection procedures are followed and how GPs should be involved in managing the care of children where there are concerns.
After the publication of the report, chairman of Bristol Safeguarding Children Board, Ray Jones, said the big message from the case was that children should not be given prescribed medication like methadone.
He said that the only way of checking whether parents were giving children methadone was through testing.
"This is a national issue and something we have asked the Department of Education and Department of Health to reflect on because it does require a national response," Prof Jones said.
City council director for children and young people's services Annie Hudson, said: "What we have learnt from this review is that we need to enable and support practitioners to dig down and get a really strong sense of what life children are living in these families where drug misuse is part of their lives."
But she said that despite the failures in taking the case for care proceedings to court there was no guarantee that Jayden would have been taken into care.
Ms Hudson said there was no one-off single incident in Jayden's case to suggest he was at risk as there have been in other cases and said that social workers need to be aware of the issue of methadone and checking parents are not giving it to children.