Probe into number of East Lancs kids taken into care

Picture posed by model

Picture posed by model

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE number of children being taken into care in Blackburn with Darwen has fallen, new figures reveal.

But the drop is in stark contrast to Burnley where the number has almost trebled in two years, from 54 children in 2011 to 134 last year.

County social services chiefs are now analysing variations in the number of children taken into the service’s care across the region.

Areas being looked at include the level of police referrals, how taking several siblings from the same families affected the figures, the impact of new groups of people moving in, and any statistical quirks affecting the figures countywide.

They are examining how the effects of high levels of deprivation, benefit changes, jobs losses and the effect of recession on wage levels had contributed to the Burnley figure.

Blackburn with Darwen Council statistics show the number of children taken into its care fell from 155 in 2011 to 123 last year.

The authority, which is separate from the county council, has been working on a policy of early intervention with families identified as potentially facing crisis.

It traditionally has had the highest numbers of children being taken into care in East Lancashire but has now been overtaken by Burnley.

The latest figures from the county council show that the joint Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley area saw a rise from 50 children taken into care in 2011 to 69 in 2013.

In Rossendale, the number of children taken into local authority care rose from 22 in 2011 to 39 in 2013 and Pendle saw an increase from 68 to 80.

County council children’s care director Ann Pennell, said: "We carried out our own research into neglect in 2012 and introduced a new strategy last year.

“We are constantly analysing the figures for children in care across the county, including Burnley, to try and better understand the factors involved.

“Rates vary from district to district due to a range of issues, and factors such as high levels of poverty and disadvantage, faced by some communities in Burnley, inevitably play a part.

“We are prioritising early intervention strategies to help families cope with problems before they escalate.”

County children’s boss Matthew Tomlinson said: “I am confident that the people we take into care are the right ones and we are doing it for the right reasons. It is well known that figures for children coming into care are linked to wider measures of deprivation and disadvantage.

“That is why we are placing such importance on tracking these and other figures so that we know where to focus services.”

Blackburn council’s lead member for children’s services Pat McFall, said: “We work really hard to intervene early with families potentially facing crisis. Courts place children into our care as a very last resort.

“Our job first and foremost is to protect children.”

Comments (3)

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12:19pm Mon 31 Mar 14

mavrick says...

Perhaps if wage levels were raised to a living level these children could be at home like normal children. It has been said many times that more people in work are claiming benefits just to survive is increasing. I then look at some of the employers who pay the minimum wage and wonder why they are allowed to get away with it? A small firm with a couple of people working for them I can understand but some of the bigger employers need looking at.
It is also known that children brought up in care are disadvantaged from day one. It surely must be better to keep most families together where the problem is simply low wages.
Perhaps if wage levels were raised to a living level these children could be at home like normal children. It has been said many times that more people in work are claiming benefits just to survive is increasing. I then look at some of the employers who pay the minimum wage and wonder why they are allowed to get away with it? A small firm with a couple of people working for them I can understand but some of the bigger employers need looking at. It is also known that children brought up in care are disadvantaged from day one. It surely must be better to keep most families together where the problem is simply low wages. mavrick
  • Score: 2

3:18pm Mon 31 Mar 14

woolywords says...

Oh dear, this is odd...
I seem to recall that Cllr Maureen Bateson was in charge or something big in Childrens Services, some years ago, when this plan was rolled out and has to be seriously proud of these results, so deserves a well done from me.
Putting your kids into care isn't something that is done lightly, due to the real effects it has upon them, long term. So anything and everything must be done to prevent this from happening. It seems, on the face of it, that our Councils policy, of getting help to where it's needed and before a crisis point is reached, has had the desired effect. Other councils may want to copy what we are doing here.
An huge well done to all concerned and keep it up.
Oh dear, this is odd... I seem to recall that Cllr Maureen Bateson was in charge or something big in Childrens Services, some years ago, when this plan was rolled out and has to be seriously proud of these results, so deserves a well done from me. Putting your kids into care isn't something that is done lightly, due to the real effects it has upon them, long term. So anything and everything must be done to prevent this from happening. It seems, on the face of it, that our Councils policy, of getting help to where it's needed and before a crisis point is reached, has had the desired effect. Other councils may want to copy what we are doing here. An huge well done to all concerned and keep it up. woolywords
  • Score: 6

9:14am Wed 2 Apr 14

Angusam says...

Yet todays headlines read "Blackburn with Darwens Children Most under weight in England" with an estimated 400 children suffering symptoms of Malnutrition.
Yet todays headlines read "Blackburn with Darwens Children Most under weight in England" with an estimated 400 children suffering symptoms of Malnutrition. Angusam
  • Score: 1

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