We monitor the number of children entering the care system on an ongoing basis and information showing the change in the number of children entering the care system for the period since 2010 is provided in the table below:
Children who started to be looked after1,2,3 for years ending 31 March 2010 to 2017.
- Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.
- Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after in the year has been counted.
- Figures exclude children looked after under an agreed series of short term placements, but include children who were previously looked after under an agreed series of short term placements, but have changed to become looked after under a different legal status (e.g. care order) in the year.
Further breakdowns of children who started to be looked after can be found in Table C1 of the statistical first release ‘Children Looked After in England including Adoption: 2016 to 2017’ at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/children-looked-after-in-england-including-adoption-2016-to-2017.
The government wants every child to be in a stable, loving home that is right for them. One of the key principles of the legislation which underpins the UK’s child protection system, is that children are best looked after within their families. In July 2018, we revised the attached statutory guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’, to make this clear to practitioners. However, that is not always possible and, as a last resort, local authorities may apply to the independent courts for a decision about removing a child from his or her family – where there are concerns that the child is at risk of significant harm.
Our reform programme, Putting Children First, aims to ensure that all vulnerable children and families receive the highest quality care and support as soon as a need is identified. We have invested up to £200 million through the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme to test and develop better practice, including testing approaches to help vulnerable children to remain safely at home. We have also established the What Works Centre, which is pressing ahead with its research programme, including what works in safely reducing the need for children to enter care.
At the Budget, on 29 October 2018, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the government is also investing £84 million of targeted funding, for a number of local authorities, to improve their social work practice and decision-making. This is to enable these local authorities to support vulnerable children to stay safely at home, thriving in stable family circumstances, where that is in their best interests.