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Invest in families to stop sharp rise in children in care

Published: 16th November 2023

4 minute read

Family Rights Group is urging the Government to invest in support for families in the Autumn Statement to arrest the rise in the number of children in the care system.  

This comes as new data released today by the Department for Education show that the number of children in the care system in England has reached an all-time high at 83,840, up 2% in a year. 

The startling figures reflect the ongoing crisis in children’s social care in England. While children leaving the care system was up 5%, at 31,680, the number of children being taken into care was up 6% at 33,000.  

New figures also show that 1 in 5 children are placed more than 20 miles away from home, further contributing to the breakdown of support networks that they desperately need. 

These latest DfE figures mark a continuation of a trend since 2009 of more and more children being looked after by the state. According to Josh MacAlister’s Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, the number of looked after children in England will top 100,000 by 2032 unless drastic changes are implemented. 

Family Rights Group Chief Executive, Cathy Ashley, said: 

Cathy_Ashley“Every day, the crisis in children’s social care gets worse. We are letting down children and families and draining the public purse in the process.  

“Funding pressures on local authorities, and cost of living pressures on families are severely exacerbating the situation. 

Family Rights Group is urging Government to support the most valuable resource that children have: their families. 

“Investment in early help would prevent families ending up in crisis, lead to better outcomes for children and pay dividends for local authority budgets. We know family-centred approaches, for example, family group conferences are proven to be effective in safely keeping children out the care system. That’s why the option of a family group conference should be a legal right for families involved with children’s services.  

“Kinship care, in which children are supported to live with grandparents or other relatives of friends provides children who cannot remain at home with love, greater stability and better outcomes. No wonder 91% of families would choose kinship care if they were unable to care for their children. And yet kinship care is too often an afterthought. When the Chancellor is delivering his Autumn Statement next week, he must include adequate funding, so that the forthcoming national kinship care strategy delivers the once in the generation reforms that are desperately needed.”  

See also:

  • Our recent blog, published ahead of the King’s Speech, setting out why new child welfare legislation is crucial for urgent reform
  • Our six tests for the Government to ensure the first National Kinship Care Strategy delivers for children and families
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