Childhood in UK care system makes you twice as likely to die earlier, study shows

This shocking research shows the devastating impact on children of taking them into “care”. They would live longer if they stayed at home with their mum/birth family! There are more children in “care” now than at any time since 1985. How many more early deaths before the priority becomes supporting mums/families instead of separating them.

Mark Townsend 24 May 2020 The Guardian

Research reveals ‘shocking’ mortality trend in those looked after by the state.

People who spent time in care as children are almost twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did not, stark new research reveals.

Researchers at University College London tracked more than 350,000 people using official government data between 1971 and 2013. They found that the likelihood of dying earlier among those who had been in care increased over time, contrary to the general population which, during the same period, experienced a decline in mortality risk.

The team at the UCL’s institute of epidemiology and healthcare said the findings were “shocking” and called for a government response into why inequalities appeared to be widening.

Throughout the 42-year period, they found that adults who spent time as children in the care system were 70% more likely to die prematurely than those who did not.

However, within the more recent cohorts, the chances of dying early had increased to “more like twofold”.

Researchers believe that the impact of austerity may have worsened the situation since December 2013, the last date for which “all-cause mortality data” was available.

The majority of premature deaths were attributed to causes such as self-harm and accidents or were related to mental illness.

The study, the first major research of its kind, suggests thousands have died prematurely.

The number of children in care has steadily increased over the past decade, reaching almost 82,000 in England and Wales at the start of 2018.

Professor Amanda Sacker, part of the UCL team, said: “The figures are really quite shocking and indicate that while the majority of us are living longer, healthier lives, this is far from the case for those who spent time as children in care. Rather, the inequalities have increased.”

Sacker said she was surprised to find that while there was a 40% increased risk for those in care compared with those living with parents in 1971, this had soared to 360% in 2001.

The increase in the mortality rate could be partly explained by difficulties faced by former care children entering the labour market after the 2008 crash, the study suggests, an observation that will prompt concern when evaluating the current coronavirus-induced downturn.

“There are concerns that reduced council funding due to austerity measures has resulted in reduced quality of care for looked-after children which could affect the mental health of these young people,” said the study.

Now the UCL team is calling on the government to act on the findings, paying particular attention to mental health.

“Children in care are among the most vulnerable in our society, and our research indicates that we are failing them. We must do more to understand why,” said Sacker.