Photo of John Hemming

John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley, Liberal Democrat)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills

(1) how many children under the age of one were taken into care in each year since 1980; and how many were subsequently returned to their birth parents;

(2) how many babies under one year old were placed in care in (a) 1996 and (b) 2006; and for what reasons.

Photo of Parmjit Dhanda

Parmjit Dhanda (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills; Gloucester, Labour)

Information on the number of children aged under one who were taken into care on an interim or full care order or under a police or emergency protection order in each year since 1992 is shown in Table 1. This information is not available prior to 1992. Of these, 3,000 children who were taken into care aged under one subsequently returned home between 2001 and 2006 to live with parents, relatives or other person with parental responsibility (excluding residence orders and special guardianship orders). Information on whether a child returned to live with their parents, relatives or other person with parental responsibility has only been collected since 1 April 2000. There is no comparable information prior to 2000.

In the case of all children subject to a care order, the reason they have become looked after is because the courts will have taken the view that the 'significant harm' threshold set out in the Children Act 1989 had been crossed. Information on the number of children looked after by local authorities who were placed in care aged under one in 1996 and in 2006 and for what reasons, is shown in Tables 2 and 3. The 'category of need' codes record the main reason why a child is being provided with services. This provides a further insight as to why a particular child is being looked after. Information on 'category of need' was first collected in April 2000 and provides further information as to why a child is being looked after. Data on 'category of need' is not strictly comparable with the 'reason for being looked after' information that was collected prior to 1 April 2000.

Table 1: Children who were taken into care on an interim or full care order and under a police or emergency protection order( 1)
England Number
Year ending 31 March Children taken into care under one on an interim or full care order and under a police or emergency protection order ( 2,3,4,5)
1992(6) 310
1993 730
1994 1,000
1995 1,200
1996 1,200
1997 1,300
1998(7) 1,400
1999 1,600
2000(7) 1,900
2001(7) 1,800
2002(7) 1,900
2003(7) 2,000
2004 2,000
2005 2,000
2006 2,100
(1). Source, DfES, SSDA903 return which between 1992 and 1997 and since 2004 covered all children looked after by local authorities. SSDA903 covered only a third of children looked after by local authorities between 1998 and 2003. (2). Figures for children looked after in this table exclude agreed series of short term placements (3.) To maintain the confidentiality of each individual child, data at national level are rounded to the nearest 100 if they exceed 1,000 to the nearest 10 otherwise. (4). Historical data may differ from older publications. This is mainly due to the implementation of amendments and corrections sent by some local authorities after the publication date of previous materials. (5). Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after in the year has been counted. (6). The figure was for the period 14 October to 31 March 1992 this was due to the implementation of the Children Act 1989 (7). SSDA903 only covered a third of children looked after by local authorities
Table 2: Children aged under one who were placed in care during the year ending 31 March 1996 by reason for being looked after( 1,2,3)
England Number
Reason for being looked after 1996( 4,5)
All Children who started to be looked after aged under one 3,300
No parents 10
Abandoned or lost 70
Family or child homeless 20
Parent(s) in prison 40
Breakdown of adoptive family
Preliminary to adoption 390
Parent's health 400
Parents/families need relief
- child with disabilities 10
- other 480
Abuse or neglect 1,300
Concern for child's welfare 310
Own behaviour 30
Accused or guilty of an offence 0
At request of child 0
Other 270
(1). Source, DfES, SSDA903 return which in 1996 covered all children looked after by local authorities. (2). Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after in the year has been counted. (3). Figures for children looked after in this table exclude agreed series of short term placements. (4). To maintain the confidentiality of each individual child, data at national level are rounded to the nearest 100 if they exceed 1,000 to the nearest 10 otherwise. (5). Historical data may differ from older publications. This is mainly due to the implementation of amendments and corrections sent by some local authorities after the publication date of previous materials.
Table 3: Children aged under one who were placed in care during the year ending 31 March 2006 by category of need ( 1,2,3)
England Number
Category of need 2006(4,5)
All children who started to be looked after aged under one 4,300
Abuse or neglect 2,800
Child's Disability 40
Parental illness or disability 310
Family in acute stress 320
Family dysfunction 470
Socially Unacceptable behaviour 10
Low income 10
Absent parenting 270
(1). Source, DfES, SSDA903 return which in 2006 covered all children looked after by local authorities. (2). Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after in the year has been counted. (3). Figures for children looked after in this table exclude agreed series of short term placements. (4). To maintain the confidentiality of each individual child, data at national level are rounded to the nearest 100 if they exceed 1,000 to the nearest 10 otherwise. (5). Historical data may differ from older publications. This is mainly due to the implementation of amendments and corrections sent by some local authorities after the publication date of previous materials.

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