Care proceedings on the increase
The power to intervene in family lives and remove children from their homes is one of the most invasive powers that the state has. This infringement of the parent's and child's human rights must be clearly justified. Despite the complex procedure of proving this justification, and considering that a child should be removed only where there is no other option; care proceedings are still on the rise.
Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) have released the following figures:
The number of applications for the twelve months to the end of November 2012 (10,800) is nearly 10% up on the figure for the preceding twelve months (9,831).
- Between April and November 2012 Cafcass received a total of 7,278 applications. This is 8.3% higher when compared to the same period last year.
- In December 2012, Cafcass received a total of 847 applications. This is a 4.3% increase on December 2011 levels.
- Between April and December 2012 Cafcass received a total of 8,135 applications. This figure is 8% higher when compared to the same period last year
- During April 2011- March 2012, Cafcass received 10,236 new applications. This figure is 11.2% higher when compared to previous financial year.
There could be many reasons why local authorities are issuing more care proceedings. We would like to think that agencies are working faster, that people are faster in reporting abuse. There may be other reasons, however, which are not so positive. Is there less assistance to families before proceedings in the child protection stages? Is the country suffering from a reaction to media panic? Is there a correlation with the recession or increase of substance misuse in the UK?
The figures do not show the cause of the increase, and it is a difficult problem to investigate as there are so many contributing factors. The troubling reality is however, that whatever the reason for the increase there are simply not enough foster placements available or adoptive parents.
If you or someone you know has been contacted by social services about child protection concerns, or if you are thinking about caring for a child in your extended family, please contact one of our child care solicitors.