Norfolk children 'seriously' harmed by neglect
Four children were left neglected in a "chaotic" family known to local authorities for two decades, a serious case review has found.
Norfolk social services were told of concerns about the family after a spell at a women's refuge, but failed to properly intervene.
The review found chronic neglect caused "serious" long-term harm to at least two children. All four are now in care.
Norfolk County Council said it should have put the children in care sooner.
The review said the case concerned a "socially isolated and chaotic family" in which the parents had been in conflict for several years.
The mother was "unable to offer adequate care and keep them safe from harm". The father was not part of the household, referred to as Family L, but spent time there in order to see his children.
The children had witnessed domestic violence and suffered accidents including one in which a three-year-old had fallen out of a first floor window, the report said.
It found professionals from different agencies were focused too much on the children's special educational needs and the poor state of the family's home rather than the mother's behaviour, and were too sympathetic to her.
She routinely did not attend her children's medical appointments and regularly failed to get them to school on time.
The children were taken into care in April 2013 after a "number of risky circumstances" came to light including an incident when a toddler was found with adult medication in his mouth.
James Joyce, chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services, said: "In this instance we didn't make the right decision early enough and for that we must apologise. Especially to the children of Family L.
"The point of a serious case review is to learn and improve from failings."