Why don’t they stop taking children away from their loving homes and put more money into supporting mums and families to keep their children at home! If families had even a fraction of the foster care budget, many of the children in care would not be there. As we say on our family court picket: Take Away Our Poverty NOT Our Children!
The Guardian 9 January 2020
Excerpt: “But we know that too many children are waiting for the stable and loving home they deserve, which is why we are boosting the number of foster and adoptive parents and offering plenty of support to these families from the word go – including £45m through the Adoption Support Fund, announced recently by the education secretary. We are moving forward with a review of the system so that children receive the best possible care.”
There are now 78,150 children in care in England, a rise of 28% in a decade
The number of children in care has gone up by 28% in the past decade with council leaders warning of unsustainable pressure being placed on support services for young people.
Official figures show there are now 78,150 children in care in England, up from 75,370 in 2018 and almost 20,000 more than in 2009 when 60,900 children were looked after.
The Local Government Association (LGA) warned the huge increase in demand, combined with funding shortages, is putting immense pressure on the ability of councils to support vulnerable young people who need help.
Judith Blake, the chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said the demands being placed on councils were “unsustainable”. “These figures show the sheer scale of the unprecedented demand pressures on children’s services and the care system this decade,” she said.
“Councils want to make sure that children can get the best, rather than just get by, and that means investing in the right services to reach them at the right time.”
Katharine Sacks-Jones, the chief executive of Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, said: “The increase in children in care is putting further pressure on an already overstretched system. It is young people who are bearing the brunt of this crisis – too many face instability, being moved away from friends and family and being placed in substandard homes without the support they need. This is unacceptable.”
Last month, the Guardian revealed that thousands of children in care were increasingly being placed in illegal or unregulated homes, in what critics have labelled a national scandal.
A lack of places to house vulnerable children in the UK is prompting a surge in placements that are less safe. These include those that are unregulated or not registered with Ofsted.
MPs, the police, charities and the children’s commissioner warn that children accommodated in these homes are at risk of exploitation from sexual predators and drug gangs.
The LGA said the government’s manifesto, which promises a review of the children’s social care system, was a chance to make improvements and stressed additional funding was needed to make sure councils could protect vulnerable children.
Councils were forced to overspend on their children’s social care budgets by almost £800m last year in order to try and keep children safe, the LGA said. This happened despite them allocating more money than in the previous year to try to keep up with demand.
Data shows councils have experienced a 53% increase in children on child protection plans – an additional 18,160 children – in the past decade.
There has been a 139% increase in serious cases where the local authority believes a child may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, to 201,170 cases.
The age of children in care has been steadily increasing over the past five years, the LGA said. Over-10s account for 63% of all young people in care, with teenagers six times more likely than younger children to be living in residential or secure children’s homes, which are much more expensive than foster care.
Sam Royston, the director of policy and research at the Children’s Society, said: “Children and families are continuing to pay the price of years of cuts to local councils … Without the right support children in care are more likely to be unhappy, go missing from home and be at risk of criminal and sexual exploitation.”
Royston said the extra £1bn a year pledged by the government covered the entire social care system, including adult care, and while welcome “falls far short of what is needed to offer children and their families the support they deserve”.
Another Guardian investigation in December found councils were placing children in care homes that inspectors have said did not provide a good standard of care, at a cost of millions of pounds.
The Guardian asked councils across England for information on the number of children being sent to homes run by 78 providers, all of whose properties were listed by Ofsted as being inadequate or in need of improvements at the end of March.
Fifty-eight children were placed in such homes by at least 23 local authorities in the following three-month period, handing more than £2.3m to failing providers, according to freedom of information responses and analysis of councils’ published expenditure.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We are investing £1.5bn in social care so that every child in care receives the support they need, no matter where they live.
“But we know that too many children are waiting for the stable and loving home they deserve, which is why we are boosting the number of foster and adoptive parents and offering plenty of support to these families from the word go – including £45m through the Adoption Support Fund, announced recently by the education secretary. We are moving forward with a review of the system so that children receive the best possible care.”