Councils warn number of children in care in England could reach almost 100,000 by 2025

The number of children in care in England could reach almost 100,000 by 2025, the County Councils Network has warned.

The County Councils Network (CCN) has warned that unless there is an “unrelenting” focus in keeping families together, the cost of children in care could rise to £3.6 billion more per year on average than in 2015.

It projects that the number of children in care could reach 95,000 by 2025, up from 69,000 in 2015.

If trends continue, the cost of supporting children in care could consume 60% of local authorities’ budgets by 2025, the CCN added.

This is due to the spiralling cost of residential care, as well as the number of foster carers not keeping up with demand, the CCN said.

The costs of weekly residential placements have risen from £2,915 per week in 2014 to £4,165 per week in 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of children in foster care has fallen by four percentage points since 2015.

The organisation’s warning comes after the Government announced £500 million in funding to give children “the best possible start in life” as well as a review of children’s social care in England.

Tim Oliver (pictured), chairman of the County Councils Network, said that councils are in a “vicious cycle”.

“Councils are in a vicious cycle: due to financial pressures local authorities have had to reduce preventative services to focus on intervention in crisis situations, alongside facing a lack of alternative solutions, such as foster care,” he said.

“The reality is that there are too many vulnerable children being placed in expensive residential care settings and staying in the care system for longer.

“With the situation becoming unsustainable, we need additional funding and an unrelenting focus on preventing family breakdown and keeping families together, alongside systemic reform of how councils work with their public sector partners to achieve these aims.”

The CCN called for extra funding to help reform the care system, including a reinvestment in targeted prevention and support for families in crisis.

The organisation, which represents 23 county councils and 13 council unitary authorities, also urged the Government’s forthcoming review to investigate how all parts of the public sector can work together on “emerging issues” such as mental health.

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