More than 180 children are placed on child protection plans every day to keep them safe from harm, local government leaders say.
According to the latest figures from the Local Government Association (LGA), 66,410 child protection plans were started by councils in England during 2016/17, compared with 33,300 plans in 2006/7.
This amounts to 182 plans started each day - the equivalent of six primary school classrooms’ worth of pupils.
Child protection plans are started by councils to support families and keep children safe when it is thought they are at risk of significant harm.
The LGA said the causes of the increase in the number of plans initiated are ‘mixed and complex’, but the factors may include greater public awareness combined with an increase in the number of families struggling to cope without additional support.
This dramatic increase has occurred at a time when council budgets are severely strained. Children’s services face a funding gap of nearly £2bn by 2020 and this is just to maintain the current level.
‘It is absolutely vital that councils are able to support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm,’ said Cllr Roy Perry, vice chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board.
‘But as these figures show, the pressures on councils are mounting as a result of a huge increase in demand, with the number of children being placed on child protection plans the equivalent of six classrooms’ worth of pupils every day.
‘Last week’s care crisis review highlighted the significant pressure on the care system, with the number of applications to take children into care more than doubling over a decade.
‘But these new figures demonstrate that the pressure on children’s services goes much deeper, with high risk cases being managed outside of the care system also increasing at an alarming rate.’
Many areas were ‘struggling to cope’, Cllr Perry continued
‘We really need the Government to commit to fully funding these services so that councils can manage the rising demand for help, while also providing the additional resources they need to support families before problems escalate to the point where a child might need to come into care.’