Statistics released today by Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, show that in April 2015 Cafcass received a total of 946 care applications
, representing a 18% increase
when compared to figures from April 2014. This figure also represents the highest number to date of care applications received during the month of April.
This follows the release of annual figures last month, showing care applications at an all-time high during 2014-15
. It has been suggested that this rise in application numbers may be attributable in part to a greater awareness of issues such as child sexual exploitation, which has in turn lead to more referrals to local authorities. Greater public and professional awareness of child protection issues, as well as more rigorous reviewing and scrutiny of plans within local authorities may also play a contributing role.
Statistics have also been released today by Cafcass showing the number of care applications received per 10,000 child population – the rate of care applications – by each local authority in England during 2014-15
. In total, 43% (66/152) of local authorities showed a decrease in the number of care applications compared to last year (2013-14), while 53% (80/152) showed an increase. These figures, building upon data collected since 2008-09, form part of the overall picture of care demand across all 152 local authorities.
Speaking about these figures, Cafcass CEO Anthony Douglas said:
'While these figures are a useful tool for local authorities who will no doubt analyse and assess what their own figures might mean, statistics in isolation cannot give us the full picture of what might be going on within a local area. More important than an increase or decrease in numbers, and what we are consistently seeing, is that local authorities better understand the families they are working with and have a better grasp of their needs.
Local authorities are trialling innovative new ways of working to provide earlier forms of intervention, demonstrating the high priority being given to child protection, nationally and locally, within the wider context of increasing demand and the need to use budgets effectively to meet these challenges.'
Alison O’Sullivan, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), said:
'Though local authorities have experienced significant budget reductions over the last five years we remain active in protecting a growing number of children and young people as these latest figures show. Our partner agencies, including in health services and schools, are better trained and more effective in identifying need and are increasingly working with local authorities to provide extra help and support to children, young people and their families in order to prevent crises.'
Please click here
to view the spreadsheet, which, in addition to the monthly national stats, has a tab displaying a breakdown of application and children numbers by local authority for each complete quarter from April 2012.
The full figures are available on the Cafcass website