More than 180 children are placed on child protection plans every day to keep them safe from harm – the equivalent of six primary school classrooms’ worth of pupils – according to figures analysed by the LGA.
The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, says this is double the number who were put on plans 10 years ago.
Latest figures show that 66,410 child protection plans were started by councils in England during 2016/17, compared with 33,300 plans in 2006/7. This amounts to 182 plans started each day.
The LGA warns that this increase shows the massive demand that is being placed on councils at a time when resources are being reduced, and highlights the growing number of children and families needing support from children’s services.
Children’s services face a funding gap of nearly £2 billion by 2020 – and this is just to keep services running at current levels.
Child protection plans are started by councils to support families and keep children safe when it is thought they are at risk of significant harm. This is a different arrangement to taking a child into care.
They can be initiated for a range of reasons, including neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.
Councils say that while causes behind the large increase are mixed and complex, factors may include greater public awareness and willingness to report abuse following recent high profile cases, combined with an increase in the number of families struggling to cope without additional support.
Cllr Roy Perry, Vice Chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“It is absolutely vital that councils are able to support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm.
“But as these figures show, the pressures on councils are mounting as a result of a huge increase in demand, with the number of children being placed on child protection plans the equivalent of six classrooms’ worth of pupils every day.
“Last week’s care crisis review highlighted the significant pressure on the care system, with the number of applications to take children into care more than doubling over a decade. But these new figures demonstrate that the pressure on children’s services goes much deeper, with high risk cases being managed outside of the care system also increasing at an alarming rate.
“This is no longer sustainable, with many areas struggling to cope. Children’s services are being pushed to the brink, and face a funding gap of almost £2 billion by 2020 just to maintain current service levels.
“We really need the Government to commit to fully funding these services so that councils can manage the rising demand for help, while also providing the additional resources they need to support families before problems escalate to the point where a child might need to come into care.”
Helping children and young people to fulfil their potential is a key ambition of all councils, but the local services that can support them to do so are under increasing pressure.
Bright Futures is our call to properly fund the services that change children’s lives.
The average primary school class size is 30 pupils.