The Independent reported that in the 12 months to March 2017, the number of looked-after-children in England and Wales reached 72,670 – the biggest annual surge in seven years. On average, 90 young people enter the care system every day and the rise in children coming into care has been attributed to poor housing, poverty and substance misuse; problems which have been exacerbated by ongoing budget cuts.
Subsequently, children in some of the most deprived areas of the county are more likely to be taken into care – according to analysis of government figures by BuzzFeed news.
The figures which were released last month show the rate of number of looked-after-children in the North East of England is the highest in the country (92 per 10,000), closely followed by North West (86 per 10,000). To put this into some context, these figures are almost double those from London (50 per 10,000), while the South East had 51 per 10,000.
As Sam Royston, Policy Director for The Children’s Society writes, funding for early interventions could help reduce the number of children going into care but it is increasingly difficult for councils to provide this help whilst funding falls and demands sore.
“We recognise that there will be situations in which no matter how much help is provided to a family, a care placement may still end up being in a child’s best interests. However, when that happens, the funding gap facing councils also makes it harder for them to provide the best possible support for vulnerable children. We know that while there is some really good support out there for children in care, this can vary hugely across the country.” Sam Royston, Policy Director for The Children’s Society, Huffington Post, 13th October 2017.
The Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on Chancellor Phillip Hammond to address the funding gap facing children’s services in his Autumn Budget. Children’s services face a £2bn funding gap by 2020 and if nothing is done to address this, crucial services that many children and families rely on will be put at further risk.
Whilst these alarming reports highlight a need for additional funding for councils and support services which are already at ‘tipping point', they also highlight the need for more foster carers to come forward now more than ever.
Matt Holmes – Referrals and Recruitment Coordinator at Family Care Fostering
0800 5 677 677