Increase in Care applications

When social services believe that children are at risk of “significant harm”, they have a statutory right to try and make sure that the children are safe. If they believe that the children are not safe, they can apply to the Court for a Care Order for the children to live temporarily with foster carers whilst family members are assessed to care for the children. Under a Care Order, the Local Authority would share parental responsibility for the child so that they can make any final decisions on matters relating to the child, such as where they live and with whom.

When the social services make an application to the court for a Care Order in respect of a child a Children’s Guardian, who is employed by CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services) will be appointed to impartially represent throughout the court proceedings the views, wishes and feelings of the child that the Local Authority are concerned about. The Children’s Guardian is independent of social services and their role is to solely consider what is in the child’s best interests before making recommendations to the court.

In June 2015, CAFCASS received a total of 1,104 care applications. This is a 25% increase compared to those received in June 2014.

Between April 2014 and March 2015 CAFCASS received a total of 11,143 applications. This is 5% higher than April 2013 to March 2014, when 10,620 applications were received.

It has been suggested that this rise in application numbers may be due partly to a greater public and professional awareness of child protection issues, which has led to more referrals to social services, as well as more thorough reviewing of plans within social services itself.

Alison O’Sullivan, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), commented that the increase in referrals may also be due to:

‘Our partner agencies, including in health services and schools, are better trained and more effective in identifying need and are increasingly working with local authorities to provide extra help and support to children, young people and their families in order to prevent crises.’

If you wish to view the statistics, you can at: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/news/2015/july/june-2015-care-demand-statistics.aspx

For more information on Cafcass’ role in care applications visit:

https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/about-cafcass/care-proceedings.aspx

If social services are involved with your children and family and you require legal advice about care orders or social services involvement then please contact Emery Johnson Astill’s care department on 0116 255 4855.