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Failure of authorities blamed for death of four-year-old

TRAGIC DEATH: Kaiya was suffocated by her mentally ill mother

AUTHORITY FAILINGS were a reason behind the death of a four-year-old girl after her mentally ill mother killed her, according to a report.

In September 2011, the body of Kaiya Blake was discovered at the home of Chantelle Blake in Manchester. The cause of death was determined as suffocation.

The mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter last November and has been held in a mental health unit.

The report reviewing the case said care agencies placed too much emphasis on the mother’s needs, rather than Kaiya, who was in a vulnerable situation. Before Kaiya was killed, her mother was suffering from hallucinations and delusions – she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

However, the report concluded Kaiya’s death “could not have been predicted”.

The report, carried out by the Manchester Safeguarding Children Board (MSCB), criticised “poor judgement” of the managerial set-up of the agencies that had contact with Kaiya. The agencies investigated were:

- Manchester Children’s Social Care
- Manchester Early Years and Sure Start
- Greater Manchester Police
- Adactus Housing
- NHS Manchester
- Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust
- Central Manchester Foundation Trust

Kaiya’s case was first brought to the attention of social services when she was 18-months-old in July 2008.

The following two years police twice used emergency powers in July 2009 and October 2010 to remove Kaiya from her mother’s care – the child was quickly returned though, the report found.

Police were also called by three concerned members of the public who had witnessed the mother hit Kaiya in a shop.

The report labelled the approach of the child protection plan concerning Kaiya as “fairly chaotic” – parents, nursery staff and workers at the flat where Kaiya lived all raised their alarm about the treatment of the child.

A psychiatrist assessed Kaiya’s mother two months before the death – the diagnosis found no symptoms of serious mental health problems. Yet, Blake had smoked cannabis from the age of 12 and her family said she had experienced mental illness issues for over 10 years.

Medical experts were cited in the report linking cannabis to the onset of psychosis.

Ian Rush, chair of MSCB, said: “There are lessons to be learnt by all of the agencies that were involved.

“Whilst the report finds that the tragic death of this little girl could not have been predicted by any of the agencies working with the family, the recommendations make it clear that agencies could and should have done some things differently.

“This was a complex case, made all the more so by the mother's mental health needs and behaviour.

“This led to an over-emphasis by agencies on dealing with the mother and her needs, rather than focusing on the child and ensuring her needs were met”, he added.

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