Children in care on the rise

NUMBERS of children being taken under the wing of care workers after suffering significant harm have risen in the county.A total of 283 youngsters - predominantly aged under five - were the subject of new care proceedings in court in 2006, compared to 241 in the previous year.

NUMBERS of children being taken under the wing of care workers after suffering significant harm have risen in the county.

A total of 283 youngsters - predominantly aged under five - were the subject of new care proceedings in court in 2006, compared to 241 in the previous year.

These children are likely to need substitute carers all the way through to adulthood, Suffolk County Council said.

The figures were released as the council reviews its services for vulnerable youngsters and outlined the increased pressure they are under - with domestic violence, teenage pregnancy rates, as well as alcohol and substance misuse partly to blame.

A major factor in the 17 per cent rise in care proceedings was the number of cases concerning very vulnerable children under the age of one.

A report, which will go to the council's Cabinet next Tuesday , said: “They are often born to young mothers ill equipped to care for them. Many have complications due to alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy. These children are placed for adoption to secure their future.”

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Domestic violence is also putting added demands on council services, with almost 25pc of all referrals now coming from the policing of incidents where children are part of the household.

There were 8,050 direct referrals to the council last year and half of these related to potential risks of abuse or neglect, which meant further enquiries and social work assessments had to be carried out.

A council spokesman said: “Suffolk is recognised by national inspectors as offering good protection for local vulnerable children. However, we are determined to keep improving.

“A major step is nearly complete as we base all services around schools. The new Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board is in place and already all the agencies are protecting more children in need and at risk.

“Helping children to be safe and thrive is a job for all of use because every child matters.”

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