Nearly 50,000 children in care let down by ‘inadequate’ council services

Number of children in care living in areas where council services are failing is on the rise.

The number of children in care living in areas where council services are failing is on the rise, according to new research by the Social Market Foundation (SMF).

The think tank said it was “shameful” that 48,723 children were looked after in Local Authorities whose services have been deemed as either “inadequate” or “requiring improvement.”


The think tank also said this “silent crisis” has worsened since they first researched the situation a year ago.

They have accused politicians of “ignoring the welfare of thousands of the most vulnerable members of our society. And called on the government to establish a “Charter for Looked-After Children”, committing to raising the standards of care we expect and closing the gap in outcomes between children with experience of care and their peers.

The SMF report, which was supported by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, finds that the number of children in care has been rising for several years. In 2013, there were 68,070 children in care. By 2018, this number has increased to 75,420.

A shocking 65% of children in care in England are looked-after in areas where council services are failing.

The SMF report also found that nearly 40% of care leavers in England aged 19-21 are not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared to an 11.1% average among all 16-24-year olds in England.

Only 17.5% of pupils who were looked-after children achieved A*-C in both English and Mathematics GCSE. This is compared to almost 60% of non-looked after children

And 42% of children in young offender institutions were previously in care.

Matthew Oakley, SMF senior researcher said: “These are the children who need the most support and the best care. Yet we are collectively content to give them inadequate support and care. This neglect is nothing less than shameful.”

“We know that looked after children need better. We know that failing to properly support looked after children will help to condemn them to a life of poverty and struggle or even worse. And yet the numbers of such children in failing services is actually rising. That is scandalous”

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “I welcome this work from the SMF, who like me want to see more public, political and media focus on some of the most vulnerable youngsters in our society.

“I think people will be shocked, that nearly a quarter of those going into care in recent years are older teenagers, shocked that whilst the numbers of children taken into care has been going up, the majority of councils have been assessed as being inadequate for children in care.

“The Government has to put this right. These most vulnerable kids have had the toughest start in life and rely on the state for nearly every aspect of their life.

“We might imagine from the news that potholes, street lights and bin collections are what Councils are for but looking after these vulnerable children properly is one of their most important roles and Government must make sure Councils make it the best experience they possibly can, part of which is funding them properly to do so.

“At the moment they aren’t, and too often it isn’t.”


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