The number of care applications made to the courts has dipped for the first year in many, official statistics have revealed.
While the annual number of care applications made to the courts decreased by 2.7% in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17, the ADCS warned that there is no way of knowing if this trend will continue.
Alison Michalska, ADCS Immediate Past President, said: “Although these figures represent the first annual drop in care applications in recent years there is no way of knowing whether this will form a future trend or is simply a dip in the annual statistics.
“Local authorities continue to work intensively with children on the edge of care and families in crisis so that children can remain with their families where appropriate whilst remaining committed to seeking court intervention to keep children with the highest level of evidential need safe from harm where absolutely necessary.
“More work is needed to understand and address current and future demand for children’s services across the board,” she added.
There were 14,207 care applications made in 2017-18, down from 14,599 in 2016-17. This follows years of continual increases:
14,207 in 2017-18
14,599 in 2016-17
12,792 in 2015-16
11,159 in 2014-15
10,620 in 2013-14
The recent drastic rises have caused concern among Cafcass and the courts. Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas had previously described the increases in previous years as a “major concern," while Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division had urged new, innovative and better ways to handle the increasing number of care applications to be found adding that the reasons for the increase were “little understood”.
The annual figures were revealed as 1,238 care applications were made in March 2018. This was a 3.5% increase on the previous month when there were 1,196 care applications made. However, it is a decrease on the previous year as 1,298 care applications were made in March 2017.
Alison Michalska, added: “ADCS continues to highlight the need for a sufficiently funded and resourced children’s services, enabling us to work with families at the earliest opportunity to prevent their problems from escalating to crisis point.”