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'Reactive' social services interventions rising as early intervention falls

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The number of children issued with child protection plans rose by about a quarter between 2010 and 2016, most likely caused by cuts to early intervention schemes, a new report has found.

Cuts to early intervention services, resulting from financial pressures on children services, have made social services’ interventions “more reactive”, the Education Policy Institute said in their report, published today.

Whitney Crenna-Jennings, the report’s author, said: “The capacity of many local authorities to offer preventative services has been compromised by growing financial constraints, and the number of more acute social service cases is on the rise. Along with instability in the workforce, it is likely that these problems could result in adverse effects on both the short- and long-term outcomes of those in contact with social care.”

Ms Crenna-Jennings added: “To safeguard the future of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in England, the government should ensure that local authorities are able to draw on sufficient resources, so that more preventative services can be delivered.”

Reactive intervention cases are possibly rising beyond many department’s ability to cope. The report found that around half of all social workers reported increases in thresholds for access.

LGC revealed last week that social worker caseloads have risen sharply in the past year.

The EPI found the south west had the highest proportion of social services in difficulty, with 81% of departments rated inadequate or rated improvement. The West Midlands (79%) and the north west (74%) were the next most affected areas.

According to government analysis, neglect was the most common reason for a child protection plan in 2017, affecting 48.1% of children in need. The next most common category was emotional abuse with 33.8%.

The latest government statistics show that 40% of care leavers in 2017 were not involved in employment, training or education after leaving social care.

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