Some 5,000 children return to care after being reunited with their families at a cost of £300m every year – a report claims.
Research by the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University on behalf of the NSPCC found that while 10,000 children are returned home from care every year, almost half ultimately return to the system.
The report estimates the annual cost of providing proper support and care for all families and children returning home is only £56m.
Each child that returns to care from home is thought to cost over £61,000, compared to an average cost for supporting a child to return home of around £5,600.
‘If 19% more reunifications in England (900 children nationally) were successful in a year, this would equate to a national breakeven point as a result of the costs avoided from these children no longer needing to re-enter care,’ the report said.
Researchers outlined such a move would require the reunification breakdown rate to fall from 47% to 38%.
However the report added the forecast cost of re-entry to care was ‘likely to be an underestimate because they do not capture the costs associated with looking after children with particularly complex needs that require specialist placements’.