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Councils warn of rapid rise in children in care numbers

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There has been a 78% increase over the course of the last decade in the number of children coming into contact with children’s services, research reveals.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ (ADCS’s) latest survey of councils also found that referrals to children’s social care increased by 22% between 2007-08 and 2017-18.

It is estimated the number of children in care has increased by a quarter (24%) to 75,480 in 10 years.

ADCS president Stuart Gallimore said austerity had “undoubtedly impacted on children and families, fuelling demand” for councils’ services.

He said: “The cumulative impact of cuts, over many years, to the vital services children and families rely on is now being ever more sharply felt, despite the best efforts of thousands of dedicated staff. There is not enough money in the system to meet the level of need we are now seeing, and further cuts are planned.”

Mr Gallimore bemoaned the “piecemeal approach” government had taken to providing additional funding for certain aspects within children’s services. He said: “Whilst funding is welcome, this short termist approach is unlikely to make a meaningful difference to the complex, entrenched social problems so many children and families face. It’s time for change, beyond one parliamentary cycle – without this we will never be a country that works for all children.”

In total, 140 top-tier councils responded to ADCS’ latest survey. To read the full report, click here.

Responding to the report Anntoinette Bramble (Lab), chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said: “While the additional investment announced in the Budget was a small step in the right direction and helpful, this will do little to alleviate the immediate and future pressures on services for some of the most vulnerable children and families in the vast majority of council areas.

“It is vital that the government tackles the funding crisis facing children’s services in next year’s spending review, and delivers a long-term sustainable funding solution that enables councils to protect children at immediate risk of harm while also supporting early intervention to prevent problems escalating in the first place.”

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