More children ‘at risk’ in Northern Ireland

There has been a rise in the number of children considered at risk in NI. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has published the ‘Children Order Statistical Trends for Northern Ireland 2003/04 to 2008/09’.

The bulletin provides information on a range of issues relating to children’s social care, including child protection, and ‘looked after’ children in Northern Ireland for the last five years.

Among the key findings were that between 2004 and 2009, the number of children officially on child protection increased by 76% (1,071), from 1,417 to 2,488.

Child protection investigations also increased by 48% (928), from 1,928 to 2,856 and registrations increased by 90% (867) from 962 in 2003/04 to 1,829 in 2008/09.

At 31 March 2009, there were 2,463 ‘looked after’ children in Northern Ireland, an increase of 1% from 2008, and a fall of 2% since 2004.

The data also shows that, in recent years, the proportion of ‘looked after’ children in care for three years or more fell from 53% in 2006 to 50% in 2009.

The number of children placed in foster care increased by 17%, from 1,376 in 2007/08 to 1,607 in 2008/09.

This compared with a 25% drop in children placed with family during the same period.