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Almost 100,000 children could be in Local Authority care in England by 2025
- AuthorJulia Shaikh
The County Councils network (CCN) say more needs to be done to assist keeping families together. If this is not achieved soon, Local Authorities could spend up to £3.6bn more a year placing children in care by 2025, compared to 2015. If these trends continue, Local Authorities will spend 60% of their overall budget on family social care. The latest figures equate to a 36% rise in a decade
According to the CCN chair Tim Oliver:
Councils are in a vicious cycle, due to financial cuts, local Authorities have had to reduce preventative measures to focus on intervention in crisis situations, alongside facing a lack of alternative solutions such as foster care. The reality is that there are too many vulnerable children being placed in expensive residential care settings and staying in the care system longer.
Warrington's head of service for children in care and care leavers, Sharon Cooper, said she had recently been quoted £22,000 a week for a child to be placed in a children's home.
The CCN's lead for children and Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council, Keith Glazier, said with local authorities spending their money on the growing need, councils "aren't having the ability to go out and do more early intervention with families, to try and keep families together, rather than having to take children into care".
He added: "At the end of the day we have to ensure children are safe, that is the prime purpose"
Addressing the problem:
What is needed to improve the current situation, is funding to prevent family breakdowns to keep them together, as well as systemic reform within Local Authorities. The CCN has called for extra funding to be targeted at reform in the care system.
Currently, in Warrington a pilot scheme is taking place over 5 counties. The project is looking at how to address the increase of children coming into the care system. The scheme named ‘No Wrong Door’ brings the Department of Education, police, social workers, and therapist together into the family home to support them before a crisis. Since the schemes launch in April 2021, there has been a reduction of 5% of children coming into Local Authority care within Warrington.
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