Looked-after children – the silent crisis


Almost 50,000 vulnerable children are being cared for in areas where council services are failing them. This report analyses inspection data from Ofsted, which assesses local councils’ services for children in need of help and protection, looked-after children and care leavers. The analysis showed that 63% of Local Authorities in England are providing services for these children which either “require improvement” or are simply “inadequate.” The calculations based on these figures show that this means that 47,085 children – 65% of all looked-after children – are looked after in Local Authorities that are deemed to be falling short of a good standard. Of those children, 13,790 are receiving care services judged as “inadequate”, the worst possible grade. Better care is especially important because being in care is strongly associated with lifelong social and economic problems. Children in care account for around 1% of all children but looked after children (LAC) and care-leavers make up much higher proportions of groups experiencing disadvantage: In 2015-2016 it was estimated that approximately 39% of the children in secure training centres had been in care. Only 14% of LAC get 5 good GCSES. Almost 25% of the adult prison population has previously been in care, and children who have been in care reoffend at roughly twice the rate of children who have never been looked after. Nearly half of all children in care had a diagnosable mental health issue in 2015. The proportion of care leavers between the ages of 19 and 21 not in education or training was approximately 40% in 2017.

Alongside this report the SMF has developed an interactive dashboard for others to see instantly how services in their area are performing.

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