Four out of five local authorities have seen children’s placement costs rise during the pandemic, according to official figures.
A report published by the Department for Education last week reveals 82% of councils have reported a rise in weekly foster costs, while 84% reported increased residential place costs due to Covid-19.
According to the report, the higher costs were caused by requests for increased fees from residential care providers, costs arising from elevated numbers of children in care and increased placements costs for children with additional needs.
The report also found the total number of referrals since April was 102,910, which is around 13% lower than the same period over the past three years.
And the total number of children who have started to be looked after since April is 4,320, according to the figures.
This is around 30% lower than the same time period over the past three years.
Responding to the report, the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), Jenny Coles said referrals to children’s social care fell during lockdown.
‘Children’s services departments across the country are now returning to business as usual as schools have now fully opened and children are in contact more with professionals who can raise any safeguarding concerns,’ added Ms Coles.
‘As such, working patterns and contact with vulnerable children is now more consistent with usual ways of working. Many parts of the workforce have been able to adapt to remote working and this has thankfully resulted in a lower proportion of social workers not being able to work due to Covid-19.
‘However, when the anticipated peak in referrals to children’s services arrives, we will need government to support us,’ she added.
‘Children’s services already faced a significant funding gap before the pandemic hit and Covid-19 has only increased those cost pressures, for example, as highlighted in this report, around four in five local authorities have reported a rise in weekly foster and residential placements costs due to Covid-19.’
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