Displaying items by tag: children in care
The number of children in care, which has risen 36% in a decade, is putting ‘unprecedented pressure’ on local authorities' budgets. The Government provides councils with £4.8bn for ‘vital front-line services’, including children's care. Funding a child in residential care costs £4,000+ per week. In 2015, 69,000 children were in care: by March 2020, the figure was 80,080. The rise is explained by, among other things, foster carers not keeping up with increased demands. With local authorities spending more time on this growing need, they are unable to do more early family intervention rather than taking children into care. A trial scheme across five counties is looking to address this challenge. The No Wrong Door programme, funded by the Department for Education and the local authority, brings therapists, police and social workers together within the home to work with families before they reach crisis. Since April, the number of children in care aged 12-17 has reduced by 5%.
Looked-after children, particularly those living in residential care, are disproportionately criminalised, compared to others. They are less likely to receive support from family or a trusted adult at police stations, and they should be entitled to additional protections set out in law, policy and guidance. A guide has been produced to help lawyers advocate effectively for looked-after children in custody. It offers guidance on practical steps that lawyers should take to ensure that they receive the support and assistance they need and are entitled to. There is a growing number of children coming into care, and lawyers need to know the factors that can contribute to their criminalisation. The Howard League for Penal Reform said, ‘The over-representation of looked-after children in the criminal justice system is a disgrace that has been known about for years.’ Pray for all children to have their care needs met in the community and in custody.
Ninety children a day are taken into care in England and Wales, and currently there are 72,670 children in care - up 3% from 2016. Social workers are ‘firefighting’ the most serious cases late into the night. Professor Ray Jones, working in social services improvement, says that staff fear that children slip through the net as they try to keep up with rising pressures. Local government associations say children's services will face a £2bn a year funding gap by 2020. Social workers are spending a lot of time, late at night and during weekends, preparing for court proceedings. They are closing down work where children are unhappy and distressed because they have to concentrate on those in immediate danger. This causes considerable stress over concerns that they may be missing something.