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Invest in families to stop the startling rise in children in care, Family Rights Group urges

Published: 17th November 2022

4 minute read

The Government is being urged to invest in support for families to stop the rise in the number of children in the care system.

The call, by leading charity Family Rights Group, 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 82,170, up 2% in a year.

The startling figures reflect the ongoing crisis in children’s social care in EnglandThey come after shocking revelations about the poor quality of accommodation provided to looked after children and the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (IRCSC), published in May, showing costs in wider public services of £70,900 for each child in care per year, with profits in the children’s residential home sector increasing from £702 to £910 per child per week, between 2016 and 2020. 

Family Rights Group chief executive, Cathy Ashley, said:

“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 acerbating the situation.

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

“We know family-centred approaches to children’s social care deliver better outcomes for children and reduce costs to the state. For instance, family group conferences are proven to be effective in safely keeping children out the care system. Whilst kinship care 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.”

These latest DfE figures mark a continuation of a trend since 2010 of more and more children being looked after by the state. According to the IRCSC, the number of looked after children in England will top 100,000 by 2032 unless drastic changes are implemented.

Cathy Ashley added:

“Investment in early help would prevent families ending up in crisis, lead to better outcomes for children and pay dividends for local authority budgets. A lack of adequate financial and practical support threatens some kinship care arrangements with collapse.

“When the Chancellor is delivering his autumn statement today, he must remember that the evidence is clear: any long-term solution for children’s social care needs investment in families.”

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