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27 February 2024 - Children’s social care - Oral evidence

Committee Education Committee
Inquiry Children’s social care

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Start times: 9:30am (private) 10:00am (public)


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Why are so many children in social care? Education Committee holds first session of new inquiry 

The Education Committee holds the first session of its inquiry into the children’s social care sector in England, with questions to academics and front line charity leaders. 

Meeting details

At 10:00am: Oral evidence
Inquiry Children’s social care
Project Worker at Care Leavers’ Association
Chief Executive at Barnardo’s
Chief Executive at Become charity
At 11:00am: Oral evidence
Inquiry Children’s social care
Associate Professor at Bristol University
Professor at University of East Anglia
Professor at Kingston University

Government data shows that the number of children receiving support from local authorities’ children’s services in 2023 was 7.3% higher than in 2010, albeit 0.3% down from 2022. The number of children on child protection plans is at 50,780 – an increase of 29.9% from 2010, but a decrease of 0.3% from 2022. The most recent data on looked-after children, including adoptions, shows a 27.5% increase since 2010, now at 83,840 children. 

Evidence from Barnardo’s – which is among the organisations giving evidence to the Committee – has said the number of children in residential care has increased by 79% since 2010-11. 

The cross-party Committee will question witnesses on the reasons for the sharp rises, the effect this is having on local authorities and young people, and how the trends could be reversed. 

MPs will ask about the increase in children being placed outside of their local area, even outside of their region, due to the scarcity of accommodation and specialist provision in some parts of the country. The charity Become has provided evidence to the inquiry with examples of children being relocated over 500 miles from home. There may also be questions about the practice of housing unaccompanied child asylum seekers in hotels. 

This inquiry will scrutinise the Government’s Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy, which renewed focus on early intervention. The Local Government Association reported that spend on early intervention services has fallen by 46% since 2010-11, with funds diverted to child protection and in-care services. 

The Committee will likely hear how educational, employment and wellbeing outcomes for children who have experienced the care system could be improved. 38% of care leavers aged 19-21 are not in education, employment or training, compared to 11% of all young people in that age group. Care leavers are also more likely to become homeless, die prematurely, enter the criminal justice system and experience mental health problems 

Different types of care will also be investigated in this session, with a focus on how outcomes may vary between foster care, adoption, residential care and kinship care. The latter, where a child is placed with a relative or close family friend, has been promoted by the Government as part of its Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy. MPs will also ask witnesses to explain how children can end up in the form of care that suits them best, and how these approaches may vary in other countries. 

Location

Room 15, Palace of Westminster

How to attend