According to new analysis, the number of children in care in England could reach almost 100,000 by 2025
Research commissioned by England’s county councils has said that the figure would represent a 36% rise in just a decade.
And this expected increase is already putting “unprecedented pressure” upon the budgets of the country’s local authoritys.
A government spokesperson has said that they were providing £4.8bn in funding to councils in order to help maintain “vital front-line services”, such as children’s care.
Tim Oliver, the chairman of the County Councils Network (CCN), will explain the impact of the rising number of children in care within England to his organisation’s annual conference that takes place in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, later.
This comes after data from NHS Digital suggests a substantial rise in the number of obese children in England during the pandemic. In 2019-20, 10% of children were classed as being obese at the start of primary school, but in 2020-21 the figure was at over 14%.
Mr Oliver will say that “too many” vulnerable children are being placed within what he will refer to as “expensive residential care settings” and, on average, they are staying within the care system for longer periods of time.
Taking a child into care in England is the most serious and expensive decision that a local authority has to make in the country.
Putting up a child in a children’s care home in England costs over £4,000 per week on average.
In 2015, councils looked after 69,000 children in England, but by March of 2020, this figure was at 80,080.
Projections for the CCN estimate that this number could possibly reach 95,000 in just over three years’ time.
The rise is being explained by, among other things, a shrinking number of people willing to be foster carers.
Oliwia said that there was so “little care” when she had to leave her mother and it was “terrifying”
Oliwia was just 16 years old when she went into emergency foster care.
“It was so terrifying for me at that time,” she told the BBC. “I didn’t know where I’d end up.”
She had been living in Oxford, but had to move to the other side of the county to find a home able to take her in, due to the lack of availability in her area.
“No one had ever heard of the city,” she said. “I was worried how I was going to get to school.
“But they told me they didn’t have enough carers in Oxford.”
This comes after deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam has said that the UK is now moving at “considerable pace” with its booster programme. The COVID booster vaccines rollout has been extended to all adults over the age of 40 from today, it has now been announced.
Once she had settled in though, Oliwia, now 24, had nothing but praise for the foster family she was with and their understanding for her situation.
“We had chats, we got to know each other and it was a really positive experience,” she said.
“The family was nice, but I just wish it had been in Oxford.”
The CCN’s lead for children and Conservative leader of East Sussex County Council, Keith Glazier, said with local authorities spending their money on the growing need, councils “aren’t having the ability to go out and do more early intervention with families, to try and keep families together, rather than having to take children into care”.
He added: “At the end of the day we have to ensure children are safe, that is the prime purpose”.