Care applications made to Cafcass have decreased both month on month and year on year, according to monthly statistics.
In September 2017, Cafcass received a total of 1,109 care applications, representing a 10% decrease compared with the 12,235 applications received in September 2016.
The figures show a similar decrease from both July and August 2017 when there were 1,239 applications both months.
Applications have been rising steadily since 2013, peaking at 1,326 in June this year. However, aside from May and June, all monthly figures since April this year have shown a year on year decline.
There were however 14,596 applications last year compared to 10,620 in 2013-14.
The rising applications led to ADCS and Cafcass launching guidance encouraging guardians and social workers to work together in cases. However, it was withdrawn following criticism.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth, Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas encouraged efforts to recruit new social work staff and carers in a bid to cope with the overall increase in applications.
Anthony said: “The care system has to gear up for higher numbers. This needs new investment, new ideas and most of all the next generation of staff and carers to be recruited, motivated and supported.”
He suggested the following for each local area to support children in care and on the edge of care.
- A local service to disrupt the repeated removal of children from the same parent (one in four care applications), and with six in 10 of these parents having been abused or neglected themselves and four in 10 having been in care, to stem inter-generational harm and to promote reversibility.
- A local care enterers’ service, working with young people on the edge of care to try to halt the rising numbers of adolescents in the care population.
- A local therapeutic support service to meet the needs of the growing number of children and young people who require help to recover from trauma experienced at home.
- Workforce development to build the competent, proud and supported care workforce of the future. This work is “emotional labour” and those providing it need help too.
- A local care system redesign to put more capacity on the frontline and to re-position child protection services and the care system as one of the major public health issues of our time.
Douglas explained how Cafcass has adapted its practice to meet the requirements of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which comes into effect on 31st October this year.