Steep rise in number of children in care

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THE number of children in care in East Sussex has increased by 34 per cent since 2007, according to Government figures released recently.

This is compared to an increase of nine per cent for England as a whole, and a 16 per cent increase across the south east region, during the same period.

The statistics released by the Department of Education on September 28 on children looked after by local authorities in England, show that as of March 31 this year, there were 585 children in care in East Sussex, compared with 530 at March 31, 2010, an increase of 10 per cent.

This works out as 57 children in every 10,000, which is in line with the figure for England of 59 children in every 10,000.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “These figures illustrate perfectly the scale of the challenge our social care staff face, but East Sussex is not alone and most other parts of the country have seen similar rises.

“In the past few years we have seen record levels of referrals from people concerned about the safety or welfare of a child. It is no surprise, therefore, that there has been an increase in the number of children in care.

“We should stress, however, that a social worker cannot remove a child and place it in care – that can only be done by a court.

“We would only ever ask the courts to consider the removal of a child from their parents if there was very good reason to do so.

“Ofsted published a report on our services for looked after children in January and concluded that those services were either good or outstanding.”