The Local Government Association has urged the next government to invest in children's services to ensure local authorities can fulfill the ambitions of The Children Act 1989.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the 1989 legislation, the LGA called for children's services to be fully funded, alongside investment in the wider breadth of services which provide early support for children and families.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The Children’s Act and the UNCRC were landmarks and we owe it to every child and young person to fulfill their visions.
“We want to see all children have the best possible chance of a bright future. For this to happen the next government needs to make sure children and young people are not forgotten by putting them at the centre of all decision-making," she added.
The LGA set out the next stage of its Bright Futures campaign at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth. Funding and investment in early intervention services would ensure councils can deliver their legal duties, protect the preventative services which support families before they reach crisis point and improve the lives of children and families.
The LGA highlighted:
- There has been an increase of 23,600 children classed as in need in the past decade, from 375,900 in March 2010 compared to 399,500 in March 2019.
- There has been a 53 per cent increase in children on child protection plans – an additional 18,160 children – in the past decade.
- 88 children are now taken into care every day to keep them safe.
- There has been a 139 per cent increase in serious cases where the local authority believes a child may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, which is 117,070 extra cases (up to 201,170) since 2009.
The LGA warns that investment in early help family support services can result in fewer children entering care or needing more intensive interventions, saving money and improving outcomes for children in the long run. It points to the council-run Troubled Families programme which has seen a 32 per cent reduction of children going into care and fewer children receiving custodial sentences and convictions.
Cllr Judith Blake said: "Most families will go through tough patches at some point, and often the right support provided at the right time will be enough to get families back on their feet and able to thrive.
“Councils have seen significant increases in demand for children’s social care and need long-term, sustainable funding so they can deliver the best for our children and families," she concluded.