Gang violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking are forcing a rising number of teenagers into care, the Children’s Commissioner has warned.
The “explosion” in the number of older children entering the care system over the last five years has sparked concern that the stability of the care system is under threat.
The latest government data reveals how the profile and needs of children in care has changed over, driven by a growing share of older children and teenage care entrants who have more complex needs and potentially more expensive living arrangements.
The Children’s Commissioner’s annual Stability Index shows how the number of teenagers (aged 13 or over) in care rose by 21% between 2012/13 and 2017/18, while the number of number of 0-5 year olds fell by 15%.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England is today warning that councils and the Government “have yet to catch up with this new normal” of an increasing number of teenagers “pin-balling around the system” – which she claims is “unsustainable”.
She warned that services are struggling to cope with rising numbers of teenagers being taken into care because they are experiencing issues such as criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home, and parents being unable to protect them.
There were 16,620 children aged 0-5 in care in 2012 however this dropped to 14,090 children in 2019. In contrast there were 37,730 children aged 10 and above in care in 2012 – a figure which rose to 47,040 in 2018. For those aged 16 and above, 13,580 were in care in 2012, and by 2018, this figure increased to 17,330.