Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Children taken into care in St Helens on the rise
THE number of children being taken into care in St Helens rose by nearly a third inside one year, a new report reveals.
Neglect and emotional abuse are the main reasons social services are being forced to intervene in families, the annual report of St Helens Safeguarding Children Board states.
But social services bosses insist the 32 per cent spike in the number of cases of ‘looked after children’ is levelling off and is a consequence of a more robust stance by St Helens Council.
The scandal over Baby P in north London is believed to have led to a greater scrutiny of children potentially at risk nationwide – and the report states that a “very large” proportion are being identified at less than five years old. In some cases, it is happening pre-birth.
The report, which went before senior councillors last week, also showed there had been a 35 per cent increase in child referrals to social care.
The exact number listed as being ‘looked after’ is not included, however, the report does highlight the number of children placed on a Child Protection Plan for the first time, which jumped yearly from 164 to 221 in 2012/2013.
Combinations of poverty, domestic violence, alcohol and drug misuse, and mental illness are believed to be the key causes of neglect The report states: “This has led to us identifying neglect as a key priority in the work for the coming year and also to focus on children’s mental health.
“We will continue to place an emphasis on supporting families experiencing stress.”
In a statement St Helens Council said: “The increase in figures is the direct result of the council taking a more robust stance to ensure the safety of children, including early intervention when appropriate.
“In cases where a child is deemed to be at risk we do not hesitate to take action.
“We are also proactive about finding solutions to ensure children do not remain in our care any longer than is necessary.”
The report adds that “it is a matter of concern” that some children are being referred several times to the authorities and an investigation into the reasons is being carried out.
Children leaving care through adoption saw an increase “but remains small” and numbers leaving care after an order has been lifted has also fallen. Both issues are identified as priorities for St Helens Council.
Comments are closed on this article.