Welsh councils feel the pressure as costs and placements keep on rising

The number of Welsh children in care continues to rise, as do
the costs to councils of looking after them, new figures have

There were 4,431 children looked after by Welsh councils on 31
March 2005 – 1 per cent more than a year earlier and 10 per cent up
on 2002. The weekly cost of placing children in foster care and
residential homes rose by more than 10 per cent.

There were mixed results on other indicators. Although a higher
proportion of looked-after children began their first placements
with a care plan, the percentage in care on their 16th birthday
with a care or pathway plan was lower.

But placement stability has slightly improved, with the
proportion of looked-after children with three or more placements
in a year falling from 11 per cent to 10 per cent.

Mike Lewis, policy director at Children in Wales, said the
increase in the number of looked-after children could be due to
better assessments by councils.

But he said evidence from councils also suggested that more
parents were misusing drugs, which could cause children to be taken
into care.

He said councils were under increasing financial pressure
because of the rise in the number of looked-after children in the
past three years. “I know that’s causing strain for local
authorities at a time when some of them were struggling anyway,” he

He also highlighted the problem of English councils placing
children with independent providers in Wales and putting more
pressure on already-struggling services, such as child and
adolescent mental health.

Lewis said: “It seems unfair that at a time when there aren’t
enough resources, independent providers are starting up in Wales,
and also in England, and there’s no onus on them to provide the
specialist services young people need.”

The statistics did, however, point to progress by councils in
adult services. The rate of delayed transfers of care for social
care reasons for over-75s nearly halved, while there was an
increase in the percentage of adult clients who received a written
statement of their needs and how they would be met.

But the weekly costs of residential and home care for adults


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