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Care applications hit 10,000 in one year
The number of care applications in the UK rose by more than 10% in the last financial year, taking the total number of children in care to over 10,000 for the first time.
It was revealed last week that new applications to take children into care have reached a year-on-year high. Cafcass* reported 886 care applications during March 2012, taking the total number of application received between April 2011 and March 2012 to 10,199.
January 2012 saw 912 individual applications, the highest ever number of care applications recorded in a single month.
Applications have been increasing since 2008, when details of the ‘Baby P’ case – or Peter Connolly, a toddler on Haringey Council’s at-risk register – were made public. And predictably, applications aren’t expected to fall any time soon.
So what is the reason for the increase in applications?
Certainly all child services departments fear another Baby P case and this will only have made social workers increasingly cautious and more risk adverse in their assessments.
Closer media attention, coupled with an ongoing debate over whether child protection workers are adequately supported to act quickly and protect vunerable children, has generated a greater degree of public awareness. This, in turn, has lead to an increased number of child protection referrals.
So what can these figures tell us?
Clearly council budgets are being squeezed by the resultant rising costs for both care and court proceedings. However they primarily highlight the pressure being placed on child protection workers and child care systems, many of which are already creaking under the pressure.
The government has stated that early intervention is crucial. Certainly it will be instrumental in ensuring that demand for care does not spiral out of control.
If you are affected by any of these issues, you can contact our Family Law Team for support on 0117 963 5237 (Bedminster office) or 0117 923 2141 (Gloucester Road office). Our team of Kim Joseph, Clare Cox and Tom Powles have been appointed to the Law Society Children Panel and can guide you through the process to help you find a solution.
*Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service. They are independent of the courts, social services, education, health authorities and all other agencies.