The number of children referred to social care services fell by almost a fifth during the first three months of the lockdown, according to new figures.
Figures published by the Local Government Association (LGA) show children’s social care teams received 41,190 referrals between April and June, which is around 18% lower than the same period over each of the past three years.
A total of 1,640 children started to be looked after as a result over the same period – down a third on the same period over each of the past three years.
The LGA said councils have deep concerns about falling referrals and are putting in place plans to ensure that if referrals spike when children return to school this week, they are able to ensure children and families get the right help quickly.
It has also called on the government to use the forthcoming Spending Review to ensure councils have long-term, sustainable funding to invest in preventative, universal and early help services so children, young people and families receive support they need.
‘The impacts of the pandemic will be far reaching for some children, young people and their families,’ said the chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, Cllr Judith Blake.
‘As this becomes clearer, more children and their families are likely to need support and councils expect to see a significant rise in referrals to children’s social care and demand for wider children’s support services.
‘Some children and their families will need significant interventions, but others will just need some extra help to get through a difficult period. It will be essential that the right services can be there to support them and help them cope.
‘It is vital that councils have the funding they need to support children, young people and families during the current phase of the crisis and beyond. Investment in crucial preventative services would mean help can be available when it is first needed and not when families and young people reach crisis point,’ added Cllr Blake.
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