5.5 Care for children
Could the Department provide a table, by
local authority, comparing the number of children fostered, with
the number of children placed in community homes?
Could the Department provide data on the
number of children involved in schemes which are specifically
designed to support families?
1. Table 5.5.1 headed "Children looked
after by placement at 31 March 2000 by placement" compares
the number of children fostered with the numbers placed in community
homes. Community Homes refers to childrens' homes managed directly
by Local Authorities and certain homes managed by Local Authorities
in conjunction with Voluntary Organisations. These do not include
homes run entirely by Voluntary Organisations or private "for
profit" organisations. Children placed in these settings
will be included "Other placements". This third category
also includes children placed in residential schools and children
on Care Orders but living at home with their families.
2. A second Table, numbered 5.5.2 has also
been provided, comparing the number fostered with the number in
all children's homes. This includes Community Homes, voluntary
homes, and homes run by private "for profit" organisations.
It is felt that the Committee might wish to see the data presented
in this way, as it allows comparison between the number fostered
and the total in all children's homes, rather than just the proportion
in community homes. From 2001-02 onwards, the Department's placement
statistics will be collected on this basis only and placements
in community homes will not be separately identified.
3. There was a long term decline in the
numbers of children looked after until 1994. This was accompanied
by fewer and fewer children being cared for in residential care,
so that the proportion of children in foster care increased correspondingly.
Since 1994 the total number of children looked after at 31 March
has increased by 17 per cent. However over the same period, the
number of children starting to be looked after during the year
ending 31 March has declined from 32,500 in 1994-95 to 28,400
in 1999-2000. The increase in the total looked after at 31 March,
despite the decline in numbers who become looked after in the
year, can be explained by an increase in the average duration
of care periods.
4. The numbers of children in foster placements
has increased over this period, from 32,000 (65 per cent of children
looked after) at 31 March 1995, to 37,900 (65 per cent) at 31
March 2000, but the numbers of children in community homes has
decreased over the same period, from 5,700 (12 per cent) to 4,800
(8 per cent). Over the same period, the number in all types of
children's homes decreased from 6,900 (14 per cent) to 6,300 (11
per cent). These percentages show that the proportion of children
placed in foster care remained constant, while the proportion
who were in community homes decreased.
NUMBER AND PERCENTAGE OF CHILDREN LOOKED
AFTER BY PLACEMENT AT 31 MARCH 2000
1. Figures in this table exclude children
who were accommodated under an agreed series of short-term breaks.
2. Where figures were unavailable they are
represented by double dots (..).
CHILDREN LOOKED AFTER AT 31 MARCH 2000 BY
5. For the purposes of this answer, we have
interpreted "schemes" as all means, other than by providing
care and accommodation, by which children and families are supported
through social services departments.
6. The table shows the numbers of Children
in Need receiving services from Social Services in the survey
week. Children in Need comprise two broad groups; those children
who are provided with care and accommodation (ie looked after)
by local authorities and a much larger group of children who are
supported in their families or independently through the work
of fieldwork or centre based staff. In England as a whole, children
looked after are typically about 25 per cent of the total children
served in a typical week. There is variation in the figures by
type of authority with children looked after comprising 30 per
cent of the total in the metropolitan districts but only 19 per
cent in London.