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Children in the North are 70% more likely to go into Care
A North-South divide has exposed discrepancies in the handling of care proceedings for vulnerable children
Lancaster University’s Centre for Child and Family Justice Research has shown that vulnerable children are 70% more likely to be taken into care if they live in the North-East or North-West of England, than those who live in the South-East or London.
The research responds to concerns about the soaring demand for care places. It indicates a staggering divide between the North and the South, with courts agreeing to 46% of care applications in the North-West in 2015-16, whereas London had just a quarter of applications going into foster care or adoption placements. It also revealed that the incidence of care proceedings in the North-East was found to be 34 per 10,000 in 2015-16 compared to 13 per 10,000 in the capital.
Professor Judith Harwin co-led the study and said: “Our finding that children living in the North have significantly higher risk of ending up in care proceedings says to me that children’s vulnerabilities to risk are unequal, and children are bearing that risk. The North-East and North-West account for 27% of all children, but also for more than a third of all care proceedings. That forces the question: why?”.
The discrepancies in the handling of care proceedings are highlighted by a real contrast in the risks family court judges and local authorities are willing to take. Children are three times more likely to be returned to their families on supervision orders in London than in the North-West.
Prof Karen Broadhurst, who also led the study, urged that the findings must prompt action. “We’ve been concerned about the disproportionate removal of children from poor areas since the 1980s, so why aren’t we doing anything about it – and why is resource allocation not more closely aligned to deprivation?”
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