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Care applications slow down

Number of annual care applications falls for first time in years

Published on 12th April 2018

The number of care applications made to the courts annually has decreased for the first time in several years, figures show.

There were 14,207 applications made in 2017-18 down from 14,599 in 2016-17, Cafcass has revealed.

Alison Michalska, Association of Directors of Children’s Services Immediate Past President, said: “These statistics show a 2.7% decrease in the number of care applications made to courts in 2017/18, compared to the previous financial year. Although these figures represent the first annual drop in care applications in recent years there is no way of knowing whether this will form a future trend or is simply a dip in the annual statistics.”

The number of care applications have been increasing rapidly over recent years from 10,620 in 2013-14 to 14,599 in 2016-17, prompting concerns from the courts and children’s services leaders about how services would cope with the rising demand.

Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas has previously warned that the surge in the number of care applications during 2015-2016 has become a “major issue” for the organisation. Despite this growing demand, Cafcass went on to secure an ‘outstanding’ judgement from Ofsted this year.

Sir James Munby, president of the family courts division, said the courts were “ill-prepared” for the rise.

However, the annual figures show that the rise has slowed down this last year, although it is unclear whether the number of care applications will remain at a steady rate.

Alison Michalska added: “Local authorities continue to work intensively with children on the edge of care and families in crisis so that children can remain with their families where appropriate whilst remaining committed to seeking court intervention to keep children with the highest level of evidential need safe from harm where absolutely necessary.

“More work is needed to understand and address current and future demand for children’s services across the board. ADCS continues to highlight the need for a sufficiently funded and resourced children’s services, enabling us to work with families at the earliest opportunity to prevent their problems from escalating to crisis point,” she concluded.

 

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