Care applications fall five per cent in July

By Tristan Donovan

| 10 August 2017

The number of new care applications fell five per cent in July compared with last year, latest figures show.

There were 1,238 new care applications made in July. Image: Phil Adams

Monthly data published by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) shows a total of 1,238 new care applications were made in July, compared with 1,307 in July 2016.

The five per cent decline in July is the second monthly fall in 2017/18 - in April, care applications fell 15 per cent to 1,044 from 1,226 the year previously.

In the first four months of 2017/18, care applications have fallen 3.6 per cent compared with the same period in 2016/17, fuelling hope that early help work by local authorities with struggling families is reducing care proceedings.

However, July's figures are still 10 per cent higher than in July 2015, and follow the 1,325 applications made in June this year, which was a record monthly high.

The 14,951 applications made between April 2016 and March 2017 was a record annual total and was 14 per cent higher than the 12,792 recorded in 2016/16.

The Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) warned against reading too much into the recent falls in applications.

Charlotte Ramsden, chair of the ADCS health, care and additional needs policy committee, said: "The number of care applications being made to courts in recent years has increased year-on year placing significant pressure on the system including on the courts, Cafcass and local authorities.

"Whilst these figures, seemingly show a slight decrease in the number of care applications made in July 2017 compared with the same period last year it is too early to tell whether this is a long-term trend and will result in an overall reduction in the full year figure for 2017/18, or simply a fluctuation.

"Local authorities will continue to keep children and young people with highest level of need safe from harm safe despite experiencing rising demand for our services at the same time as reducing budgets. It is crucial that more work is done to fully understand demand for children's services and that these services are fully funded, without this there is a risk that the system could buckle under pressure."

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