The number of care applications hit an all-time high in 2014/15, Cafcass has revealed.
Figures released by Cafcass show that 11,127 care applications were received between April 2014 and March 2015, a year-on-year rise of almost 5%.
The highest annual total before now was the 11,110 care applications made in 2012/13.
The figures also revealed that more care applications were made in March this year than in any previous month on record with 1,066 applications received – up 16% on the same time last year.
This is the third month during 2014/15 where the volume of care applications has exceeded the 1,000 mark. Prior to 2014/15 there is only one month on record where more than 1,000 care applications were made.
Christine Banim, national service director at Cafcass, said the rising demand could be due to greater awareness of issues like child sexual exploitation leading to more referrals to local authorities.
“Demand levels are also affected through more rigorous reviewing and scrutiny within local authorities of plans for children where remaining at home is too dangerous, even after treatment programmes,” she said.
Alison O’Sullivan, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said the figures reflect the “increased demand across the system linked to increasing public and professional awareness of child protection issues”.
She also warned that budget reductions to non-statutory services like youth work and children’s centres could drive up the need for more serious interventions.
“It must be worrying to all of us that the needs continue to grow and we should be asking the incoming government to understand and address the causes.”
She added: “We also believe there may be a factor to do with the impact of the recession and austerity on the poorest families.”
O’Sullivan said there has been positive developments among partner agencies, which are getting more effective at identifying need.