Care applications for children continue to rise


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Care applications have continued to rise this year, with May and July each reaching the highest number ever recorded in a month, the body which represents children in care cases said today.

There were 982 applications in both May and July - higher than any other monthly number recorded - according to the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

Between April and September this year, Cafcass received a total of 5,374 applications - up 7.9% on the same period last year.

And application numbers received each month so far this financial year have all topped previous months' totals, apart from for June.

The 982 applications received in both May and July were the highest recorded for a single month.

Applications in April (756), August (973) and September (875) also topped previous records for those months. A lower demand in June (806) is thought to be due to the lack of working days available because of special bank holidays this year.

Anthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, said: "Care applications continue to rise at record levels. There are many reasons for this.

"The biggest is the determination of local authorities to do better for children living in appalling circumstances, despite the subsequent pressure on capacity and resources this is bringing.

"Other factors include the highlighting of children needing protection by tougher quality assurance processes in councils, coupled with some tough findings by Ofsted, all of which make drift at home or in care more visible."

Earlier this year, Cafcass revealed that for the year 2011/12 (April 2011 to March 2012) the total number of care applications topped 10,000 for the first time.

During 2011-12, Cafcass received 10,236 new applications, 11.2% higher compared to the previous financial year.

Total figures of care applications have risen steadily over the past few years, from 6,488 in 2008/09 to 8,832 in 2009/10, 9,204 in 2010/11, to 10,236 last year, and it already stands at 5,473 so far this year.

In May, Cafcass revealed results from a study that showed a surge in care applications.

The study - an updated version of the one carried out in 2009 in the wake of the death of Baby P - found that since 2007/08 there had been a 62% increase in local authority care applications.

The research, which questioned more than 200 Cafcass guardians, found they believed local authority care applications were better timed than in 2009.

And when compared with the 2009 research, the study found local authorities were making applications at an earlier stage of their involvement with children.

Peter Connelly, Baby P, was 17 months old when he died in Tottenham, north London, at the hands of his mother Tracey, her violent partner Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen.

He suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals in an eight-month period before his death on August 3 2007.