500 per cent rise in children taken into care in Birmingham
Five times as many children were taken into care last year compared to five years ago, it has been revealed.
Following a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, figures showed that 256 children were subject to either full care, interim care or emergency protection orders in Birmingham across 2017/18.
The year previous to this there were 250 cases of children being taken into care, while 2015/16 saw 160 cases and 2014/15 saw 246 cases. In 2013/14, there was 48 cases.
However, such figures represented a huge rise on the six years previous to 2014/15 – around the time when Birmingham was placed into special measures as a council.
In the seven years leading up to 2014/15, a total of 436 children were taken into care by the council – while there has been more than double that figure in the past four years, with a total of 912 cases.
The figures are comprised of a combination of interim care orders, full care orders and emergency protection orders.
An interim care order is issued at the start of care proceedings, with the council requesting the family court to make a temporary court order.
If the court agrees, the council can take the child into care on a temporary basis for a total of eight weeks.
A full care order is sought by the council when they are worried that the parent will not work with them to ensure the child is suitably cared for, or when the parents/carers have significantly harmed the child or put the child at risk of significant harm.
The result of the order is that the local authority holds much more responsibility and the parent loses more of their rights to make decisions for the child.
An emergency protection order is an order issued with the aim of protecting a child from ongoing or imminent risk of physical, mental or emotional harm where emergency action is needed.
Over the course of the past 10 years a total of 1,348 care orders have been issued by the council – of these, 1,186 were interim care orders, 66 were full care orders and 96 were emergency care orders. The 1,348 also featured 486 children who were subject to a care order before their first birthday.
Action for Children is a UK children’s charity committed to helping vulnerable children and young people throughout the UK.
And, commenting on the figures, the charity’s director of policy and campaigns, Imran Hussain, called on the government to properly fund council children’s services to help prevent children being taken into care.
“Taking a child into care can be essential to keeping them safe but, from our everyday work at Action for Children, we know it’s far better for everyone to deal with problems like domestic abuse and neglect as early as possible, before family problems spiral out of control,” he said.
“Worryingly, things are getting worse, as over-stretched councils are forced to cut back on desperately-needed early help services – the very services they need to stop children falling into crisis.
“The reasons behind the rising numbers of children coming into care are complex, and Birmingham has its own specific challenges as the council which has the largest number of poor children living in its area.
“But we can’t ignore the fact that the funding gap for children’s services is expected to be a shocking £3.1bn by 2025. Unless the government gives more cash to councils in this year’s spending review to help them step in early to support vulnerable families, we could see more and more children reaching crisis point and going into care.”
By Tom Dare
Local Democracy Reporter
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