To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of Irish Traveller and Gypsy and Roma children being looked after in care rising from 50 in total in 2009 to 540 in total in 2019; and what data they hold about (1) the reasons for referrals of such children, (2) the agencies making such referrals, and (3) whether such children have had prior contact with social care departments.
Working Together to Safeguard Children is clear that local areas should have a comprehensive range of effective, evidence-based services in place to address assessed needs. Local authorities have the freedom to decide these services based on local priorities and the needs of families in their area.
The department holds data on children who are looked after (CLA) by primary category of need, which is the main reason the child is looked after, but not necessarily the sole reason. More detail on the reason for referrals children to social services will have been obtained at the point of referral and assessment and this data is collected in the Children in Need (CIN) census. Information on 2) the agencies making referrals and on 3) whether children have had prior contact with social care departments is also collected within the CIN census.
The information requested is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. Due to the way in which the data is held, the department would not be able to provide the detailed information on 1) above and the information requested for 2) and 3) above without exceeding the cost threshold applicable to central government. In order to provide the required data, we would need to create new datasets and methodologies for matching CIN assessment data to CLA data.