Care applications surge by 14 per cent to new record high

By Neil Puffett

| 12 April 2017

The number of applications for children to be taken into care have hit a new record level, official figures have confirmed.

During 2016/17 there were a total of 14,544 care applications. Illustration: Ben Tallon

Statistics published by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) show that in March 2017, a total of 1,288 care applications were made - the second highest monthly figure on record.

This takes the total number of car applications for the financial year 2016/17 to 14,544, a 13.8 per cent increase on the 2015/16 figure of 12,792, which was itself a record for a single financial year.

In September 2016, England's most senior family court judge said the record rise in care applications signalled a looming "crisis".

Sir James Munby said the reasons for the increases in care applications are little understood, and although investigations are under way, much more research on the issue is necessary as a matter of urgency.

He has called for an increased emphasis on initiatives that aim to solve problems early rather than dealing with them once they emerge.

In February, in response to increases in demand, the Association of Directors of Children's Services and Cafcass have agreed how social workers in both local authorities and those acting as guardians in family proceedings can better work together during care proceedings and pre-proceedings in the family courts.

The agreement confirms a "culture of urgency" for children and young people. It acknowledges the pressure on the care system and sets out how local authorities and Cafcass aim to work together to secure swift outcomes for children, young people and their families.

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