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Institutional neglect: 50,000 children in care where council services are failing

Social Market Foundation accuses politicians of ignoring “silent crisis” in care services

Almost 50,000 vulnerable children are being cared for in areas where council services are failing them, the Social Market Foundation (SMF) has claimed. 

The think tank accused politicians of ignoring the "silent crisis" in care services that condemns tens of thousands of children to poor care followed by social and economic problems throughout their adult lives.

The SMF analysed inspection data from Ofsted, which assesses local councils' services for children in need of help and protection, looked-after children and care leavers.

According to that analysis, 63 per cent of local authorities in England are providing services for these children which either "require improvement" or are simply "inadequate."

The SMF 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.

The SMF said that politicians pay too little attention to the poor quality of care many looked-after children receive.

The think tank has developed an interactive dashboard to allow MPs and others to see instantly how services in their area are performing.  It can be found here.

The SMF report, entitled Looked-after Children: the Silent Crisis was supported by the Hadley Trust. The report compared the amount of political attention given to school standards, accusing politicians of turning a blind eye to failings that affect vulnerable children.

The SMF said:

"It is remarkable that the fact that nearly two thirds of Local Authorities being judged in need of improvement or inadequate over looked-after children is scarcely discussed at Westminster. This would not be the case if such levels of failure were found in our school system, where 78% (secondary) and 90% (primary) are judged to be either good or outstanding.

"This issue clearly needs to receive more attention from politicians and policymakers, and with improvements in the data available, we now have the ability to see where we are going wrong, and how we might improve the situation of looked after children."

For SMF's report, click here. For its interactive dashboard, click here. For SMF's full press release about the report, click here.