Children care figures rise is sign of action

The number of children taken into care in Blackpool has risen over the last two years.
The number of children taken into care in Blackpool has risen over the last two years.
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The number of children taken into care in Blackpool has gone up sharply over the last two years, new figures show.

The number of interim care orders issued in the resort rose by 43 per cent between 2011 and 2013 – up to 134.

But youth workers say Blackpool Council is “getting to grips” with the problems in the resort and the rise highlights the work put in to tackle long-standing issues.

Town hall bosses admitted the figures look “shocking” but said the total number of children in care in the resort has fallen.

Coun Ivan Taylor, Blackpool Council cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We continue to have a high number of referrals into the care system.

“We still have more than 450 children being looked after by the local authority but we are working very hard to deal with this and that number has come down. An absolute priority in all cases is to keep children safe. We will do everything we have to do to make sure the children in our town are safe.”

The figures, released by Blackpool Council following a Freedom of Information request, show the number of cases that progressed to a full care order has stayed fairly constant in recent years. There were 37 full care orders issued last year, 39 in 2012 and 35 in 2011.

The number of emergency care orders fell to 30 last year, down from 40 the year before and 37 in 2011.

Laurance Hancock, manager of the Boathouse Youth Group, praised efforts to improve how referrals are managed, saying the assessment process now works better.

He said: “I feel, in the last 12 months, social services has got a better grip on this and things are better now than when I started in 2009.

“Now, whatever the scenario, referrals go through the same route, which prevents people falling through the net.”

How a council can apply to take a child into care

When a council has concerns for a child’s welfare, it can apply for an interim care order lasting up to eight weeks.
It is the use of these orders that has risen in recent years, from 94 in 2011 to 118 in 2012 and 134 in 2013.
Once all the facts of the case have been gathered, it will then go to court where the council can apply for a full care order. Emergency orders are used in extreme cases at short notice.
Of the interim orders, 31 had no further action in 2011, compared to 49 in 2012 and 31 in 2013.

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