08 MAY 2009
Cafcass confirm increase in children entering care system
Cafcass has released for the first time a full month by month total of care proceedings applications received since 2005.
The statistics include data from the period April 2005 to March 2009 and covers care proceedings applications made by local authorities where Cafcass has been appointed by the court to represent the interests of children.
Care applications, in the immediate aftermath of the closure of the criminal case into the murder of Baby Peter, rose sharply. This trend has continued at significant levels and represents a shift in intervention thresholds by local authorities. The figure for March 2009 was the highest monthly figure ever recorded by Cafcass - amounting to an increase of 37.9% compared to March 2008. However when annual totals are compared the figures for 2008-09 are broadly comparable with the previous three years.
Commenting on the statistics Cafcass Chief Executive, Anthony Douglas CBE, said: "The increase represent real cases which are nearly always upheld by a family court due to the power and strength of the evidence - there is no evidence that children are being taken into care needlessly. In fact it is our view that more children are now being safeguarded who would otherwise be at risk of neglect or harm.
When we look at longer term trends there are fewer children entering the care system than, for example, in some previous decades. We understand more about the serious difficulties those children have experienced and how much it will take in terms of time and resources to put that right for them.
"We are seeing an increase in cases coming to the courts of children already known to local authorities and where chronic neglect is the main feature. There are no easy solutions or guaranteed futures for these children, either back home or in the care system.
"Each child is not a statistic but a person with complex and long-term needs which the State has a duty of care to meet."
Cafcass has announced that in future it will release updates of care proceedings applications received for each quarter.
Also announced by Cafcass is that Anthony Douglas CBE has been appointed to the DCSF's expert advisory group on the recommendation of Sir Roger Singleton, who was appointed as the government's chief adviser on the safety of children in March.