Social workers are continuing to refer record numbers of children into care, with Cafcass reporting 2012 has seen the highest number of applications to date.
Last month, councils in England made 947 referrals – a 7.7% rise on November 2011 levels and the fourth highest number recorded in a single month this financial year.
Every month this year, bar June, recorded the highest ever number of applications for a single month since Cafcass was established in 2001.
The highest numbers were recorded in May (984) and July (989) this year. The comparatively lower demand in June is believed to be due to the lack of working days available following the special bank holidays this year.
‘Rises to continue throughout 2013’
Referrals have been steadily rising since late 2008 when the Baby Peter case hit the headlines. Experts have attributed the continuing rise, which shows no signs of abating, to a more risk averse culture within local authorities and better identification of children in need of protection.
Cafcass’ chief executive Anthony Douglas predicted the rises will continue throughout 2013.
“This means we will have to work in a smarter way to secure good outcomes for the children concerned, and must continue to clarify the professional task for staff so this demand remains manageable,” he said.
“It won’t be easy, but all organisations in the sector are fantastically committed to getting this right. In the family courts, we are challenging our own culture of delay and substituting a culture of urgency, which is starting to have an impact. This is one of many changes we will need to make as we gear up to a higher care population.”
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