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Care applications rise in two thirds of local authorities

Cafcass figures show care applications per 10,000 child population have risen in 68% of local authorities

Two thirds of local authorities have seen an increase in the number of care applications compared to the previous year, according to Cafcass figures.

Cafcass produces, on an annual basis, statistics on the number of care applications received per 10,000 child population – the rate of care applications - by each local authority (LA) in England with children’s services responsibilities.

The figures show that 68% of local authorities or 103 out of the total 152 showed an increase in the number of applications per 10,000 child population. The largest percentage increase for a single local authority was by 134%, 10.3 applications per 10,000 child population.

Forty seven of the 152 local authorities or 31% showed a decrease in the number of applications per 10,000 child population compared to last year. The largest percentage decrease for a single authority was by 41%, 3.0 applications per 10,000 child population. Two local authorities reported no change.

Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas said: “The national picture is mostly positive, because more children who need to be protected, are being protected. For many authorities that have seen an increase in rates from last year, we know that this means for some children life is better; for example those who were drifting as looked after children under section 20 but now have the right care plan in place following review.

“We’re also seeing the best local authorities keeping more children safely at home through successful, targeted and high quality early-help programmes. If these programmes could be delivered throughout the country, more children could be supported to come back from the edge of care to safety. Maintaining sufficient funding for targeted services is one of the two biggest challenges for many local authorities, along with running sustainable, stable and high performing organisations."

The statistics revealed that 30% of local authorities have had an increase in applications per 10,000 child population for two years in a row 2013/14 – 2015/16. The largest two year percentage increase (difference between 2015/16 and 2013/14) is by 325%, 11.7 applications per 10,000 child population.

Cafcass recently released the total number of care applications for 2015/16, showing that 12,741 care applications, involving 21,666 children, were made between April 2015 and March 2016. This is the highest number of applications ever recorded, and a 14% increase on the number of applications made in 2014/15.

Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services said: “These figures show that councils remain committed to safeguarding a rising number of vulnerable children and young people from harm, despite facing substantial reductions to our budgets since 2010. Our children face new and emerging risks, that to tackle require the joint efforts of local authorities and colleagues from across the sector.

“We will continue to work together with our partners to help support families to stay together where this is appropriate.”

The statistics are available here.

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