To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the (a) number of and (b) reasons for children being taken into care.
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he has taken to reduce the number of children being taken into care; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of measures implemented by his Department to support that aim.
Information on the number of children who started to be looked after during the year by reason is published in Table C1 in the statistical release ‘Children Looked After in England including Adoption’ at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2017-to-2018. Information for children taken into care is shown in the attached tabled.
The government wants every child to be in a stable, loving home that is right for them. One of the key principles of the legislation which underpins the UK’s child protection system, is that children are best looked after within their families. However, that is not always possible and, as a last resort, local authorities can apply to the courts for a care or supervision order where the child is suffering, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm. In making their decisions, the courts must be satisfied that the threshold for significant harm has been met and that taking the child from his or her family’s care will be in the child’s best interests.
Where a child cannot live at home, we must make sure they are safe and receive the highest quality care, which is why we are working hard to improve the social care support for children across England through our reform programme, Putting Children First. We have also established the Children’s Social Care What Works Centre, whose initial research priority focuses on ‘what works in safely reducing the need for children to enter care’.
In the Autumn Budget, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced an additional £410 million for adult and children’s social care in 2019-20. A further £84 million is also being invested over the next 5 years through the Strengthening Families, Protecting Children programme. This programme will support up to 20 local authorities with high or rising demand for children’s social care services to improve the support offered to vulnerable children and their families. Through this, we aim to enable more children to stay at home thriving in stable family environments, and safely reduce the number of children entering care.
Across the government, we are also tackling the problems that cause children to be in need in the first place. This includes better supporting those with alcohol-dependent parents, the introduction of landmark legislation for those affected by domestic abuse, preventing young people being drawn into serious violence, and unprecedented investment in early years education and support for children and young people’s mental health.