A study by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) found that numbers of calls to councils about the safety and wellbeing of children have increased by nearly 12% cent in a single year.
In 2013/14 a total of 1,142,861 “initial contacts” were made to the 76 local authorities that provided data representing a rate of 2,021 contacts per 10,000 of the under-18 population.
The study (date from LAs authorities since 2007/08) also found that the number of initial contacts that met the threshold to be referred to children’s social care increased at a similar rate (11%) and that there was also a 13.8% increase in numbers of children and young people becoming subject to an initial child protection plan.
Alan Wood, president of the ADCS, said the figures highlighted the issues faced by children’s services departments in the face of declining budgets.
“Spending on children’s social care services has largely been protected by elected members to date but the majority of respondents recognised this may no longer be possible from 2015/16 onwards. Significant reductions in early help services have been necessary to balance the books despite recognition that this will, in time, impact negatively on social care activity.
Managing high-levels of demand within an ever-shrinking envelope of resources will continue to be a growing challenge for all directors of children’s services, their teams and frontline staff.
No one should underestimate how hard local government has worked to minimise the impact of reducing resources and increasing demand but the signs are now all too visible that the system is approaching the limits of capacity to continue to absorb such pressures.”