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Figures reveal continued rise in number of children in care

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The number of applications from local authorities to place children in care has risen above 10,000 for the first time.

The latest figures from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) show there were 10,199 care order applications by local authorities between April 2011 and March 2012, a rise of nearly a thousand from the previous year’s 9,202, a 10% rise.

The highest number of cases for the period was during January 2012 when 912 care orders were submitted. Care orders may cover individual or groups of children within a household.

The number of cases of local authorities applying for care orders has risen year on year since 2007-08 when 6,240 care orders were issued. It was also the last time there was a drop in the number of cares in a single year.

Following 2007-08, there has been a 61% rise in the number of care orders being applied for by local authorities.

Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said of the continued rise in the number of care orders: “The overall rise in the number of care applications is not surprising, and part of a longer term trend, but the dramatic rate at which cases are increasing is worrying because of the increased pressure on the child protection and care systems.

“Previous rises in care applications have not seen a decline in the proportion that are successful - suggesting that these cases continue to meet the thresholds set by the courts. Public and political focus on adoption and on the role of social workers may have increased public and professional awareness of the prevalence of children at risk as well as the growing evidence about the importance of early experiences on a child’s later development. Increasing financial pressures on families may be increasing the risk of welfare concerns escalating - local authorities are working with families to try and prevent care proceedings being necessary, but must be willing to take action where children are at risk of significant harm.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • The rising pressure on councils from looked-after children when combined with the large cut in core funding reported in your last issue reinforces the need for Governmnet help now.

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