Record number of children in care
- Credit: Archant
THE number of children in care in North Somerset has gone up by 74 per cent in the past five years.
In 2007 the local authority was caring for 160 children, but the number has now risen to 279.
Councillor Jeremy Blatchford, executive member for children and young people’s services, said the authority is also seeing an increasing number of young teenagers being taken into care.
Due to the increase, the local authority now spends around £7.5million each year looking after children under its protection.
Cllr Blatchford said: “We’ve got a record number of children in care and at the moment we are getting a lot of young teenagers.
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“We are trying to analyse each individual case and determine the causes of it.
“The last thing we would ever want to do is put a child into care. It’s what happens when all else fails.
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“We want to be able to work with parents and help them get the support they need to look after their children. We want to help people to help themselves.”
Children in care are usually looked after by foster carers, or a small number are looked after in secure care homes if they need a lot of support to get over abuse or violence.
Cllr Blatchford said: “Some children have got severe disabilities and are in the care of the local authority,
“Some are in care because both parents have been killed, although this is quite rare.
“We have got neglect issues, which is a big one, and domestic abuse is a massive problem.
“Young children can be severely damaged just by observing domestic abuse. It’s very scary.
“Other big causes are alcoholism, substance abuse and social and financial pressures.”
North Somerset Council is now evaluating its services and working with partner organisations to find out how it can better support families in the district.