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Children in Care

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many children have been taken into care in each year since 1997, broken down by reasons for being taken into care. (241620)

The number of children that have been taken into care in each year since 2001, broken down by reasons for being taken into care can be found in the following table.

Information going back to 1997 is not available. This is due to an introduction of new category of need codes in 2000 on the Children Looked After system which are used to identify the reason for being taken into care.

Children who were taken into care during the years ending 31 March by category of need1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Years ending 31 March 2001 to 2008. Coverage: England

Numbers

20015

20025

20035

20046

20056

20066

20076

20086

All children who were taken into care1, 2, 3

7,000

7,400

8,100

7,500

7,700

7,700

7,700

7,400

Category of need7

Abuse or neglect

5,600

6,000

6,600

5,900

6,000

5,700

5,700

5,400

Child's disability

70

50

70

50

60

70

70

50

Parents illness or disability

290

280

340

280

300

320

290

270

Family in acute distress

270

260

290

290

390

470

500

480

Family dysfunction

520

520

590

670

700

790

870

860

Socially unacceptable behaviour

100

110

90

110

80

100

80

90

Low income

10

10

10

20

20

20

20

10

Absent parenting

150

190

150

190

170

240

160

160

1 Source: SSDA903 return on children looked after.

2 Figures exclude children looked after under an agreed series of short term placements.

3 “Children taken into care” are children who started to be looked after under the following legal status: interim or full care orders, police protection or emergency protection or child assessment orders. They exclude children freed for adoption or for whom a placement order was granted, they exclude children under voluntary accommodation and they also exclude children under youth justice legal statuses.

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 Figures are taken from the SSDA903 one-third sample survey.

6 Figures are taken from the SSDA903 return which, since 2003-04 has covered all children looked after.

7 It is the most applicable category of the eight “Need Codes” at the time the child was taken into care rather than necessarily the entire reason they are looked after.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment his Department has made of the recommendations of the report of the Thanet inquiry in respect of looked-after children and vulnerable young people being placed out-of-county by local authorities. (244252)

The Thanet Inquiry was produced in June 2005 by the (then) Kent Child Protection Committee. The Inquiry report included useful information about the impact of “out of authority” placements of looked after children on a district with a significant number of private children's homes and independent fostering providers.

There are a number of initiatives that we are taking forward as part of our “Care Matters” programme that will tackle some of the concerns raised by the Inquiry. The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 recently received royal assent and Section 8 sets out the considerations that local authorities must have regard to when they are considering making a placement for a looked after child, including giving consideration as far as is reasonably practicable to a placement being near a child's home and within the local authority's area. Furthermore, Section 16 of the Act reaffirms local authority responsibilities to ensure visits to looked after children including those placed out of authority and a long way from their homes.

We will shortly also be consulting on revised guidance on children missing from care which will include more information about the responsibilities of local authorities when a child placed outside of their local authority area goes missing from their placement.