Care order applications to Cafcass are continuing to soar, according to the family courts body’s latest quarterly figures which showed a 34% rise in the year 2009-10.
The figures, released by Cafcass today, revealed that in March this year there were 832 section 31 care applications, the highest figure for a single month since Cafcass began. January 2010 recorded 656 cases and February, 725.
Comparing the whole of 2009-10 to the previous year, the figures showed demand for care is up by 34%, from 6,496 referrals in the year 2008-9 to 8,684 for 2009-10.
The figures contradict the suggestion, made by new junior children’s minister Tim Loughton, speaking to Community Care recently, that rising referrals – which soared in the wake of the Baby Peter case – were “just a blip.”
Anthony Douglas, Cafcass chief executive, said: “I fully support the actions that local authorities are taking to protect these children, most of whom have complex long-term needs and for whom there are no easy options or solutions, either at home or in the care system.”
“There is no doubt though that the sustained increase in care cases has placed all of us working in the care system under pressure. However, where agencies are working together collaboratively, as outlined in the renewed President’s Interim Guidance, we have found that backlogs in cases have fallen and we are providing a more timely service to vulnerable children.
“Our new proportionate ways of working, and the introduction of duty schemes in some areas have allowed us to provide a service to an increased number of children. It is a great credit to our staff that in March 2010 they were working on 11,509 care cases – a 26% increase on the 9,128 cases they were working on in July 2009.”