Monday, 1 December 2014

Looked after children. Demand: UP, UP AND … UP. Resources: also up ... but not by so much

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) appears to have answered, in part at least, a question I’ve been asking myself for some time. What has happened to resources as demand for places in care has increased?

The report reveals that the number of children who were looked after in England rose to its highest level for 25 years in March 2013, when 68,110 children were in care. That’s a whopping 14% increase since 2008. 

The report also says that spending on foster and residential care increased by 3% in real terms between 2010-11 and 2012-13  while the number of children in care
rose from 65,510 in 2010-11, to 68,110 in 2012-13, an annual increase of 4%. 

So demand seems to be outstripping resources.

The NAO goes on to say that there is "a lack of understanding of which particular factors contribute towards the costs of care". It also says that the Department for Education (DfE) “… which holds local authorities to account for delivery of these services, does not have indicators by which it measures the effectiveness of the care system.”

Yes, you did read that correctly! The DfE doesn’t appear to understand the costs of looking after children or how effective the process is!! 

[Please note this is an amended version of the original post, which gave a misleading impression of the extent to which demand seems to be outstripping resources].