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36,000 children suffering ‘revolving door’ cycle of repeated referrals

Action for Children report spells out consequences of fall in early intervention

New research published by Action for Children suggests that thousands of children are repeatedly referred to children's social care without receiving the support they need. The report – Revolving Door – examines who those children are and why there is a shortage of help.
The research found that more than 120,000 children were referred to children's social care in both 2013/14 and 2014/15.

About 36,000 had their case closed in the first year and were referred again the following year. Of these, almost two-thirds (63 per cent: 23,000 children) were found to be 'children in need' at this later assessment. This suggests that chances to intervene earlier are being missed.

More worryingly, says Action for Children, the remaining third (more than 13,500 children) did not get statutory support for a second time, leaving them stuck in a revolving door of re-referrals. Findings from last year show that only one in four of such children are signposted to early help.
The charity says that "vital family support such as children's centres can provide help that could stop problems spiralling out of control, and prevent the need for statutory services later on.  However years of central government budget cuts mean that often, these essential support services are no longer available."

Children's services' spending on early intervention services has fallen by 40 per cent and late intervention risen by 7 per cent since 2010.

Responding to the report, Cllr Roy Perry, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said:

"Government should not ignore the repeated warnings around the need to properly fund children's services, which face a funding gap of nearly £2 billion by 2020 just to keep services running at current levels.

"As well as this worrying report, the recent Care Crisis Review revealed that the number of applications to take children into care has more than doubled over a decade, while the Children's Commissioner found nearly half of the total children's services budget is now taken up by vital support for children in care.

"We have long warned of the rising demand councils face, with more than 180 children being placed on child protection plans every day to keep them safe from harm.

"This is no longer sustainable, with many areas struggling to cope. This report provides further evidence that children's services is being pushed to the brink, as councils are now being forced to cut the very services which are designed to help children and families before problems escalate to the point where a child might need to come into care."

For the full report, click here.