Care applications drop but proceedings duration hits six year high

The number of care applications made to Cafcass continues to fall, official statistics have revealed.

There were 1,000 care applications made in September 2019, down from 1,095 in August 2019. The 1,000 figure is also 5.8% lower than September 2018 when there were 1,062 care applications made.

So far this financial year since April 2019, 6,608 applications have been made to Cafcass in total.

The figures peaked in 2016-17 when 14,599 applications were made in the year. In 2016, the then president of the family division Sir James Munby said: “The fact is that we are approaching a crisis for which we are ill‐prepared and where there is no clear strategy to manage the crisis.”

However, in 2017-18, the annual figures dropped to 14,221 and in 208-19 fell again to 13,569.

Monthly figures fell below 1,000 in December 2018 when 958 care applications were made.

However, the average time for care proceedings has reached the longest period of duration since 2013, figures have revealed.

The average time of care and supervision cases to reach first disposal was 33 weeks in April to June 2019, up three weeks from the same quarter in 2018, showing proceedings are continuing their upward trend.

Cases are meant to be completed within a 26 week deadline introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014, but only 41 per cent of cases were completed within the deadline, which can be extended in certain circumstances.

There were 8,562 children involved in new Public law applications and 10,745 children involved in Public law orders in April to June 2019, down 5% and 7% on the same quarter in 2018 respectively. This reflects the fall in the number of applications and disposals, down 4% and 5% respectively from the equivalent period in 2018.

The Ministry of Justice statistics also show that between April and June 2019, there were 1,230 adoption applications made, which is down 2% from the equivalent quarter in 2018. Over the same period, the number of adoption orders issued decreased by 6% to 1,202.

There were 2,605 applications under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, including placement orders during April to June 2019, a 5% decrease on the same quarter in the previous year. Total disposals fell by 7% to 2,445 over the same period.

Between April and June 2019, 60% of all adoption orders were issued to male/female couples, 20% were given to sole applicants, 14% to same-sex couples and a further 6% to step-parents.

Family Court Statistics Quarterly, England and Wales, April to June 2019

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