Children taken into care: why are the figures rising?
Record numbers of families are having court cases brought against them to remove their children because of factors like abuse and negelect. We look at the data and ask why are the figures so high?
Today the number of applications for children to be taken into care has hit a record high according to the Children and Family Court Advisory Service (Cafcass).
An application comes from the local authority when a child or children are thought to be in such serious danger that a court order is needed to remove them from their family. A single application can be made for one or more children in a household. The local authority application goes through to Cafcass and the courts.
If you compare the applications to previous years you can see that 2011/2012 is already clearly higher than any time in the last 4 years in England:
Click hereto see the bigger version of this graph.
In total, between April 2011 and January 2012 Cafcass, received 10,199 new applications – 10.8% higher when compared to the same period last financial year
What can these figures tell us about the way the 1989 Children Act is being applied? An answer to this comes from Anthony Douglas, Chief Executive of Cafcass:
Agencies are working more quickly to ensure that children are removed from deeply damaging households where many have been for some time and are showing a lower tolerance for poor parenting. What we are seeing is an elimination of drift in neglect cases and a greater recognition of the appalling impact of neglect can have on children. Nearly every child involved needs love, care and therapy, either back home or elsewhere. All agencies need to factor in these much larger increases into their planning systems, resource allocations, workforce development strategies and service contracts, so that the most vulnerable children in the country continue to receive strong public services.
So quicker assessment and better awareness in care professionals of the damaging effects of leaving a case goes some way to explaining the increase in applications.
Most children who go into care do so as a result of concerns that they are being neglected, not that they are at risk of physical violence or sexual abuse. The increase in applications, say professionals, reflects a greater appreciation of the impact on children of parental neglect, emotional abuse and domestic violence.
Click on a education authority to get the data. Get the Fullscreen version
We have gathered statistics from the Department for Education showing regional breakdowns of children at many more stages in the care process in a Google spreadsheet, along with the latest Cafcass figures.
What do you think? What have we learnt since the Children Act and what do these figures tell us about society at large?