Mounting pressure for Yorkshire's children's services as eight young people a day are taken into care

Children's services face mounting pressure as they support near record numbers in care, authorities warn, prompting calls for early intervention to protect the most vulnerable.


Eight children a day were taken into care in the region last year, the latest figures show, at a proportional rise nearly double the national average.

MP Emma Lewell-Buck, the shadow minister for children and families, warned over links to austerity, citing “savage cuts” to Sure Start and intervention grants which can prevent children from entering care.

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Now children’s commissioner Anne Longfield has warned that such interventions are critical to supporting the most vulnerable before they reach crisis point.

Almost half the children’s services budget for England is now spent on young people in care, she added, with less spent on preventative measures and early support services as a result.

“It means we are not helping children when we first realise there is a problem,” she said. “We are allowing those problems to get worse, and are only able to help when crisis hits.”

Authorities nationwide have seen a rise in the number of so-called ‘looked after’ children, increasing seven per cent in England in the two years to March 2018, and 13 per cent in Yorkshire.

A number of authorities are responsible for around a fifth more children than they were two years ago while in Rotherham, councils have seen an “unprecedented surge” in the wake of CSE scandals, while its projected overspend for children’s services doubles this year.

Urgent investment is needed to ease the pressure for authorities nationwide in the next spending review, council bodies argue, alongside long-term sustainable funding for early intervention.

“With the number of children in the care of local authorities increasing even further over the past year, this shows the huge demand on councils to provide vital care and support for children and young people,” said Coun Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board.

“This reinforces the need for new and long-term significant funding for children’s services, which are fast approaching a tipping point and face a funding gap of £3bn by 2025 just to keep services running at current levels.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “It is vital that vulnerable children and families receive the care and support they deserve, but we do recognise the challenges that councils are facing with rising demands on children’s services.

“That is why the autumn Budget included an extra £410m for social care, and a further £84m which will support up to 20 local authorities to invest in initiatives that improve social work practice and decision making so that children can stay safely at home with their family.

“This builds on the learning of promising Innovation Programme projects, including North Yorkshire’s No Wrong Door project, which provides young people access to integrated support surrounding mental health, education and rebuilding links with families.”