Children’s services get 1,770 referrals a day

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

A child was referred to local authority children’s services every 49 seconds last year.

Analysis of government statistics by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows increasing demand for support from children’s services.

The figures show that there were 646,120 referrals to children’s services during 2016/17 – which equates to 1,770-a-day or one every 49 seconds.

More than 500 child protection investigations were started on average each day in 2016/17. This compares to 200-a-day in 2006/07.

The LGA is warning that children’s services are struggling to cope with the rising demand for support because of funding pressures.

It says that children’s services are facing a £2 billion funding shortfall by 2020.

The LGA wants the government to use the upcoming final Local Government Finance Settlement to address the £2 billion funding gap.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We will always encourage people to refer any concerns about children to their local authority as soon as possible, so that the situation can be investigated and support or immediate protection put in place where necessary.

“But while these figures are encouraging as a reflection of heightened awareness and identification of child abuse, they also highlight the staggering scale of the pressures that have now been building on children’s services for a number of years.

“With councils now having a child referred to them every 49 seconds on a daily basis, it is vital that they have the resources necessary to provide an effective response.

“The government has been warned repeatedly that on-going funding cuts, including the £2 billion gap that councils face by 2020, have left them struggling to provide the support that vulnerable children and families need.

“Unless there is an injection of funding to support crucial early intervention, many more vulnerable children remain at risk.”

Section 47 of the 1989 Children Act requires local authorities to investigate any circumstances where they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child in their area is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.

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