Headlines: May 11th, 2009

Figures showing an increase in the number of children being taken into care do not paint the full picture of local authorities’ work to protect children, according to the Local Government Association. CAFCASS, the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service, said there had been a significant growth in care applications by councils since November last year and this might be explained by ‘a lowering of the threshold of intervention by local authorities following the publicity surrounding the Baby P criminal court case’.

Margaret Eaton, the Chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Care proceedings are used by councils as a last resort when they think there is no other way to keep a child safe. They do not represent the whole picture. Councils provide a wide range of support to help keep children with their own family and stop care proceedings from becoming necessary.”

Councillor Eaton said in recent months local authorities had been working hard to make the safety net protecting vulnerable children even more secure. They saw this as one of the most important jobs they did and were committed to doing it as well as possible.

She added: “Being a child social worker is one of the toughest jobs in Britain and councils cannot do this difficult work alone. There is still a long way to go if we, as a society, are to reduce to a minimum the chances of children being abused by a small number of troubled individuals.”

CAFCASS Chief Executive Anthony Douglas said there was no evidence that children were being taken into care needlessly. “In fact it is our view that more children are now being safeguarded who would otherwise be at risk of neglect or harm,” he said.