Care / Care experienced / Permanence News

Population of children in care in England reaches 30-year high

Government statistics reveal that the child in care population is now higher than at any point since 1985

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Care application statistics  also show that the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) has received 6,031 care applications in England in the six months to September 2015, an average of 1,005 a month.

More headlines:

  • Upward trend: If these trends continue, care demand will surpass 12,000 requests in a year for the first time (Cafcass).  The number of looked after children has increased by 6% in the last 4 years and has risen steadily over the past 7 years.
  • Care arising from family dysfunction: the reasons why children start to be looked after have remained relatively stable since 2011, however, the percentage starting to be looked after due to family dysfunction has increased slightly from 14% in 2011 to 16% in 2015. The majority of looked after children – 61% in 2015 – are looked after due to abuse or neglect.
  • Increased number of Care Orders: At 31 March 2015, 42,030 (60%) children were looked after under a care order (either an interim or full care order), a 5% increase compared to 2014 and an 8% increase since 2011.
  • Voluntary agreements: 19,850 (29%) children were looked after under a voluntary agreement under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
  • Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers: Of the 69,540 children looked after in March 2015, 2,630 (4%) were unaccompanied asylum seeking children. The number of looked after unaccompanied asylum seeking children has been falling since 2009, but increased by 5% between 2013 and 2014 and has increased by 29% between 2014 and 2015.
  • Numbers of children in foster care continues to rise: In 2015 the number of children in foster care continued to rise and of the 69,540 children looked after at 31 March, 52,050 (75%) were cared for in a foster placement.
  • Fewer children placed for adoption: The number of children placed for adoption at 31 March has fallen for the first time since 2011, and number placed in children homes has also fallen slightly in 2015. There were 3,320 looked after children placed for adoption at 31 March 2015 representing 5% of all looked after children. The number and percentage of looked after children placed for adoption at 31 March rose each year between 2011 and 2014, but there has been a 15% reduction in the number in 2015.
  • Stability of care placement: Of all children looked after at 31 March 2015, 67% (46,690) had one placement during the year, 23 % had two placements and 10 % had three or more placements.
  • Former care leavers: Based on 2015 data, of the 26,330 former care leavers aged 19, 20 or 21, 39% were not in education, employment or training (NEET); this is a slight increase of 1 percentage point from 2014 but this increase may be due to improved recording.
  • Children missing: Local authorities have provided more detailed information this year about children looked after who were missing or away from placement without authorisation. Of the 99,230 children looked after during the year ending 31 March 2015, 6,110 (6%) were recorded as missing at least once from their placement. The number of children who were away from their placement without authorisation was 3,230 (3%).

Read more:

Cafcass: Care application statistics

Community Care Article: Care demand could reach highest ever levels this year, figures indicate

Community Care Article: Number of looked-after children at 30-year high, government data reveals

Department for Education (DfE): Statistical First Release (SFR)

Executive, Anthony Douglas read more here: “We face huge difficulties, but I’m proud of what Social Workers achieve”

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