William Eichler 05 November 2019

Family hardship drives 53% increase in children referred for ‘urgent support’

A rise in family ‘conflict and hardship’ against a background of cuts to council budgets is behind the heightened pressure on child protection services, local authority leaders have revealed.

Councils have seen a 53% increase in children on child protection plans – an additional 18,160 children – in the past decade, while 88 children are now taken into care every day to keep them safe.

The rise in children referred for urgent support, along with Government funding cuts, means that councils are forced to divert funds from the early intervention services which can tackle problems for children at risk before they get worse.

A Local Government Association (LGA) poll of councillors working in children’s services, has revealed that more than 80% said problems like domestic violence, substance misuse and offending were behind the rise in child protection plans in their area.

Seventy per cent said that poverty, poor housing and debt played a part.

Around 64% said the number of children and young people receiving child protection support or being taken into care has increased ‘to a great extent’ since 2015/16.

Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, urged the Government to ensure councils received ‘long-term’ and ‘sustainable’ funding to support early intervention services.

‘Councils want to make sure that children can get the best, rather than just get by. Yet, funding pressures are coinciding with huge increases in demand for support because of problems like hardship and family conflict, which is making it increasingly difficult for them to do that,’ she said.

‘No family is immune to life’s challenges, and every family should feel safe in the knowledge that if they need it, help is there to get things back on track.’

‘If councils are to give children and families the help they need and deserve, it is vital they are fully funded. This is not just children’s services, but the breadth of support councils can provide, from public health to housing,’ Cllr Blake continued.

‘This extra funding will help but it is just one year. However councils need long-term, sufficient and sustainable funding so they can deliver the best for our children and families.’

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