Whether it’s a ‘risk averse’ culture within local authorities – once described as the ‘Baby P effect’ because of a perceived association with the Peter Connelly case in Haringey – or simply better identification of children in need of protection, care applications show no signs of slowing, according to Cafcass’ latest figures.
The family courts body published its latest quarterly data today, which reveals social workers made 849 care applications in June – a 5% increase on June 2012 and the second highest figure ever recorded for June. The highest June figure (862) was recorded in 2011.
Between April and June 2013 Cafcass received 2,744 applications - 8% higher when compared to the same period last year. And for the last financial year (April 2012-March 2013) social workers made 11,091 new applications – 8% higher than the previous year. February 2013 recorded the highest ever number of care applications (1,004) for a single month.
Private law cases rising sharply too
Also published today were figures for private law cases, which are also soaring at quite a pace. In June 2013, Cafcass received 4,267 new private law cases – a 29% increase on June 2012 levels. And between April and June 2013 the family courts body received 13,633 new private law cases – a 27% rise on the same period last year when 10,701 applications were made.
A new tool to improve social workers’ care applications, and simplify the process, is due to be launched this week. Developed by Cafcass and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the tool is designed to replace traditional court bundles – often 400 to 500 pages long – with a “short, sharp document” that’s just 30 to 40 pages in length.