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Care applications continue to fall

The number of care applications continues to fall, the latest statistics have revealed.

There were 1,021 care applications in June 2019 - a fall of 55 per cent from June 2018 when there were 1,076 applications made to Cafcass.

The 1,021 care applications also fell from the previous month in May 2019 when 1,157 were made.

Care applications peaked in July 2016 when 1,307 care applications were made. In 2016-17 there was an annual total of 14,599 care applications. This led to former president of the family division Sir James Munby issuing a warning that courts were “ill prepared” for the rise in care applications and there is no clear strategy in place to deal with the increasing number of court cases where children can potentially be separated from their parents following an application from local authorities.

“We are facing a crisis and, truth be told, we have no very clear strategy for meeting the crisis,” said Munby.

However, the number of care applications reduced in 2017-18 to 14,221 and again in 2018-19 to 13,559 in total annually.

In December 2018, the number fell to 982 in a month - a figure not seen since September 2015 when 985 care applications were made.

Charlotte Ramsden, Chair of the ADCS Health, Care and Additional Needs Policy Committee, said: “These statistics show that local authorities continue to take action to safeguard and protect children and young people in their local areas, despite facing a 50% reduction in our budgets since 2010 and significantly increased demand for our services.

"The cases that make it into court are, by definition, in the highest levels of evidential need and it is important that local authorities respond effectively in these situations, although the actual quality of intervention cannot be judged by the data. It is too early to tell whether we will see a reduction in the annual statistics for 2019/20, or not.

"What these statistics don’t show is the cases where local authorities are working intensively with children and families to safely prevent care proceedings and children being taken into care in the first place. There is lots of good practice by local authorities in this space including a re-focussing of resources into edge of care services and this is evidenced in the increasing proportion of authorities with good or outstanding Ofsted judgements as well as possibly by the national reduction in care cases shown here.

"However, our ability to work with children and families earlier to help them become more resilient and stay together is being hampered by an estimated £3.1 billion funding gap in children’s services by 2025. Rising child poverty and increasing instances of domestic abuse and poor parental mental health in our communities is also impacting on this goal. The Treasury must recognise that investing in children is not only beneficial for them but for the country as a whole," she concluded.

Cafcass announced in May that Jacky Tiotto will be joining Cafcass as its new chief executive in Autumn 2019 from the London Borough of Bexley, where she is currently Director of Children’s Services. Anthony Douglas was the previous chief executive and took the organisation from an Ofsted rating of inadequate in 2009 to outstanding in 2018

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