Record number of care applications received by CAFCASS in April
A total of 946 care applications were received by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) in April of this year. This represents an 18% increase in 12 months.
Care applications to CAFCASS are at an all time record high. Academics and researchers are suggesting numerous reasons for this unprecedented rise. Some are saying that the increase in referrals is due to fear and awareness of issues such as abuse of children which has received much press coverage recently. Others attribute the rigorous scrutiny of planning and policy within local authorities. A few are saying that greater professional awareness of child protection issues and the heightened vigilance of the British public is the contributing factor.
CAFCASS statistics showed that 43% of local authorities reported a decrease in the number of care applications but that 53% or 80 out of 152 saw applications go up compared to last year, These figures give a snapshot of the child care demand across all 152 local councils.
The head of CAFCASS said that the recent statistics will provide a useful tool for child protection agencies and local authorities but warned that the figures should not be seen in isolation. He said that what is important is that service providers, practitioners, and local authorities better understand the needs of families and children they are working with and supporting.
According to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, local authorities all over the country are, despite significant cuts in their budgets over the last 5 years, giving the highest priority to child protection initiatives. New and innovative intervention strategies, including the strengthening of existing partnerships with the NHS and local schools programme, are being tested to ensure vulnerable children and young adults are receiving adequate protection.
Adoption UK has expressed concern, meanwhile, that greater numbers of children are going into care but not moving out of care and into adoption. The charity claims that this is causing distress to potential new parents who are left waiting, thus frustrating the objectives of adoption reforms. It called for children to be placed for adoption as soon as it is ruled impossible for a child to stay with a family member.