Recently released statistics have given an insight into the number of care applications received per 10,000 child population – the rate of care applications - by each local authority (LA) in England with children’s services responsibilities.
The statistics, which have been published by Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, relate to the period between 2008-09 and 2013-14.
They show that over this period the rate of applications rose from 5.9 in 2008-09 to 9.7 in 2012-13, a rise of 64%, but that it has dropped to 9.2 in 2013-14. This is lower than 2012-13 levels but is still higher than 2011-12 levels.
The rate of care application is significant, says Cafcass, as it helps identify trends in care proceedings independent of population growth.
The statistics show considerable local variations in the number of applications per 10,000 children:
“Changes to the family justice system and the reduction in the duration of care proceedings have been brought about collectively by local authority managers, social workers, Cafcass, judges and lawyers,” commented Alison O’Sullivan, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. “We will continue to work together to ensure that improvements that are already underway continue in the future.”
“By changing the way we work and further improving the quality of our assessments, we have shifted the burdens of the process away from the courts and back into the care planning process, which is the right thing to do for children and families,” she added. “We must also remember that care proceedings are a necessary and positive step for some children and our decisions must always be focussed on the needs of the children."
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