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Cafcass reveals record care applications for January

Care applications to family courts body Cafcass are continuing to soar, according to the latest statistics, with record numbers of referrals made last month. (Pic: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features)

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Care applications to family courts body Cafcass are continuing to soar, according to the latest statistics, with record numbers of referrals made last month.

The organisation received 903 referrals in January 2012 – an increase of 100 from December 2011 and the first time the figure has ever topped 900 for a single month.

Between April and December 2011, Cafcass received 7,487 new applications – up 10.5% on the same period in 2010.

Previously the highest number of care applications for a single month was 896, recorded in March 2011. Numbers for the month of January have previously been less than 700: 698 applications in January 2011; 669 in January 2010 and 666 in January 2009.

Anthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, said the sustained high rates have clear implications for services.

“Volatility and variation between local authorities is one thing, and we are used to that, but it is the double digit increase that makes it harder for the sector to gear up and ensure the relevant resources are available for all children,” he said.

He warned agencies would need to factor the higher numbers into their planning systems, resource allocations, workforce development strategies and service contracts.

He added: “Of course some authorities show significant decreases so best practice in demand management is also important to transfer.

“However, the profile of children entering the system is unwavering: an unquestionable need for care for the vast majority, and the urgent need to be given their normal childhood back and to be allowed to develop in a loving and supportive family environment.”

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