Child protection plans witness steep increase

New figures show that the number of children supported through a child protection plan to keep them safe from harm has undergone the biggest annual increase in four years.

The Department for Education data shows that 53,790 children were being supported through a child protection plan on 31 March 2018, a 5.31 per cent increase on the previous year and the largest rise since 2014. The numbers also represent an 84 per cent increase in the number of children on plans over the past decade.

Child protection plans are started by councils to support families and keep children safe when it is thought they are at risk of significant harm, differing from arrangements to taking a child into care. They can be initiated for a range of reasons, including neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

The Local Government Association is warning that this increase shows the massive demand that is being placed on councils at a time when resources are being reduced, and highlights the growing number of children and families needing support from children’s services.

Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “It is absolutely vital that councils are able to support families and help children who are at risk of significant harm, but it is also important that help is available before problems escalate to that point. But this is being put at risk by the huge and increasing financial pressures children’s services are now under, with many councils being pushed to the brink by unprecedented demand.

“Councils have done all they can to protect spending on children’s services by cutting services elsewhere and diverting money, but despite this, they have been forced to reduce or stop the very services which are designed to help children and families before problems begin or escalate to the point where a child might need to come into care. We are absolutely clear that unless new funding is found in the Autumn Budget, then these vital services, which keep children safe from harm and the worst abuses of society, will reach a tipping point.”