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Probe into number of East Lancs kids taken into care
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.”
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