A recent study by the Department of Education (DoE) found a 26% increase in the number of children in protection plans over the last eight years and ‘almost triple’ in care.
The ‘Pressures on Children’s Social Care’ report, published earlier this week, explored recents trends in the pressure placed on children’s social care. It also looked into the local and national government’s response to the pressures.
It concluded that in 2017/18 there was a total national overspend of £872m from the original annual budget of £8bn.
In 2010/11 and 2017/18, the number of referrals increased by 7% while the number of children being asses for child protected increased by 77%.
The DoE have admitted to having made ‘poor progress in improving children’s social care services’ over the last two years, but aim towards providing ‘high-quality’ support to vulnerable children by 2022.
Despite this, DoE said in a statement: “Even if its analysis is completed successfully it will be a tall order for the Department to achieve its goal within three years.”
The cost of childcare is rising and local authorities are pushed into overspending. Children’s services are budgeting to spend £4.2 billion on ‘looked-after children’ over 2018-19, which is £350 million more than they budgeted to spend last year.
In summary: “The increase in the number of children in need episodes between 2010-11 and 2017-18 was actually below population growth, with these rising by only 2%, from 735,470 to 753,840.”
The Department of Education do not understand what is causing the increase in childcare demand and activity within social care, however they stated: “Over two years ago we judged that the Department had made poor progress in improving children’s social care services.
“The Department has now identified what it considers to be some of the multiple factors influencing demand and activity. Such as deprivation, domestic abuse, substance misuse and adult mental health.
“However, the analysis is analytically limited, is not comprehensive and contains no prioritisation of factors or quantification of the contribution of each factor.”
It’s also thought to be affected by the varying cost and activity from different local authorities, however Ofsted have assessed and concluded that: “There is no link between spending per child in need and quality of services.”