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Children in Care

Volume 447: debated on Wednesday 14 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the change was in the average number of children in care in Northern Ireland between 1995 and 2005. (76327)

Information is not collected centrally on the average number of children in care; however, the number of children in care at 31 March 2006 each year is collected and this is detailed in Table 1 below annually from 1995 to 2005, the latest year for which information is available.

Column 1 of table 1 details the year to which the information relates, column 2 the numbers of children in care on 31 March for that year, column 3 shows the numbers of children in care per 10,000 of the population aged under 18, and column 4 details the year to year percentage change in the numbers of children in care at 31 March 2006.

Table 1: Number of children in care in Northern Ireland, 1995 to 2005

Number of children in care at 31 March 2006

Rate per 10,000 population

Percentage from previous year

1995

2,624

56.2

1996

2,625

56.2

0.0

1997

2,431

52.1

-7.4

1998

2,354

50.8

-3.2

1999

2,324

50.5

-1.3

2000

2,422

53.1

4.2

2001

2,414

53.6

-0.3

2002

2,453

54.8

1.6

2003

2,446

55.3

-0.3

2004

2,510

57.4

2.6

2005

2,531

57.9

0.8

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the change was in the average number of children in care in reported missing for periods of more than 24 hours between 1995 and 2005. (76328)

Information on the number of children in care reported missing for periods of more than 24 hours is not collected centrally. However a consultative document produced in 1998 entitled “Children Matter: A regional view of residential child care services in Northern Ireland” details the number of untoward incidents recorded in Northern Ireland during the period 31 March and 30 September 1997. It reports a total of 488 incidents of absconding recorded during that period, of which 227 related to periods of 24 hours or more.

An extract from table 4 of “Children Matter: A regional view of residential child care services in Northern Ireland” is shown as follows.

Untoward incidents recorded between 31 March and 30 September 1997

Nature of untoward incident

Vol and stat homes

Regional centres

Total

Absconding

Under 24 hours

115

146

261

24 hours plus

126

101

227

Total

241

247

488