Domestic abuse and substance misuse fuelling demand for children’s social services

Domestic violence and substance abuse in the family home are fuelling a rise in the number of children being put under social services protection, council chiefs are warning.

The number of youngsters under child protection plans has risen by more than 50% in the last decade, according to the Local Government Association.

At the same time, 88 children a day are now taken into care in order to ensure their safety.

The LGA is warning that family conflict, along with hardship issues such as poverty and debt, is contributing heavily to the rise in the number of children needing protection.

A poll by the LGA of children’s services lead councils found that nearly two-thirds (64%) said that the number or complexity of children and young people receiving child protection support, or being taken into care, has increased “to a great extent” since 2015/16.

More than 80% said that an increase in family conflict, such as domestic abuse, substance misuse and offending, was a major factor in this increase.

And 70% said that an increase in family hardship, such as poverty, poor housing and debt, was a major factor.

Child protection plans are drawn up by a local authority setting out how a child can be kept safe, the family situation improved and the support the family needs to do so.

The Department for Education (DfE) said councils will have access to £49.1 billion in 2020/21, which includes an additional £1 billion grant for adult and children’s social care.

A further £84 million is being invested in “evidence-based interventions” to improve the support provided to vulnerable children and their families, the DfE said.

Judith Blake (pictured), chairwoman of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “Councils want to make sure that children can get the best, rather than just get by.

“Yet, funding pressures are coinciding with huge increases in demand for support because of problems like hardship and family conflict, which is making it increasingly difficult for them to do that.

“No family is immune to life’s challenges, and every family should feel safe in the knowledge that if they need it, help is there to get things back on track.

“If councils are to give children and families the help they need and deserve, it is vital they are fully funded.

“This is not just children’s services, but the breadth of support councils can provide, from public health to housing.”

She said an extra £1.5 billion in public funding announced recently for adult and children’s social care will help, but added that this is just for one year.

“Councils need long-term, sufficient and sustainable funding so they can deliver the best for our children and families,” she added.

“We want every single child to have the best start in life, with the opportunities and the stability to fulfil their potential,” a DfE spokesman said.

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