Gangs and sexual exploitation pushing more teenagers into care warns Childrens Commissioner

Responding to the figures, Ms Longfield said: “There are an increasing number of teenage children in the care system and too many of them are ‘pin-balling’ around the system, changing home and family, school and social worker.“Often they have the most complex and expensive needs. In one local authority, 20% of the entire children’s services budget is being spent on just ten children. This is completely unsustainable.“It is clear that we have a care system which is playing catch up. The new norm is shifting so that fewer babies and very young children are being taken off parents who cannot cope. Instead it is teenagers who are being taken into care because they are experiencing issues such as criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home, and parents being unable to protect them.”She added: “The result is a care system that is struggling to cope and which in turn is not providing the stability that many highly vulnerable children need. We should be alarmed that one in ten children in care moved home four or more times in three years. These children are being denied the chance to put down roots, to feel part of a family and to settle at school. It is not surprising that they are often the ones most at risk of exploitation.“All children in care have a right to expect that the state does all it can to improve their chances of growing up in stable and loving environments.” The Stability Index was launched in 2017 and is an annual measure of the stability of the lives of children in England and Wales. It records data on the number of times children in care move home placement, school or social worker. For the first time this year, it has recorded figures for each council.The data reveals that older children are six times more likely than children under 13 to be living in residential or secure children’s homes, and nearly half are living in privately-run accommodation.It also found that there was a large increase in the number of over 16s entering care during the year. This number grew by 25% between 2013/14 and 2017/18 – much higher than for any other age group. As a result, nearly 1 in 4 children in care (23%) is now over 16. A further 2 in 5 (39%) are aged 10-15.These changes have transformed the children’s care model from one based on very young children living in foster homes, to one where more and more older children are entering care and needing more specialist homes. The Children’s Commissioner said that these are teenagers who are significantly more likely to have the following issues flagged up by social workers: child sexual exploitation (6 times more likely), going missing from home (7 times more likely), gangs (5 times more likely), trafficking (12 times more likely) and child drug misuse (4 times more likely). Gang violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking are forcing a rising number of teenagers into care, the Children’s Commissioner has warned.   Credit:Katie Collins /PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Gang violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking are forcing a rising number of teenagers into care, the Children’s Commissioner has warned. The “explosion” in the number of older children entering the care system over the last five years has sparked concern that the stability of the care system is under threat.The latest government data reveals how the profile and needs of children in care has changed over, driven by a growing share of older children and teenage care entrants who have more complex needs and potentially more expensive living arrangements. The Children’s Commissioner’s annual Stability Index shows how the number of teenagers (aged 13 or over) in care rose by 21% between 2012/13 and 2017/18, while the number of number of 0-5 year olds fell by 15%. Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England is today warning that councils and the Government “have yet to catch up with this new normal” of an increasing number of teenagers “pin-balling around the system” – which she claims is “unsustainable”.She warned that services are struggling to cope with rising numbers of teenagers being taken into care because they are experiencing issues such as criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home, and parents being unable to protect them.There were 16,620 children aged 0-5 in care in 2012 however this dropped to 14,090 children in 2019. In contrast there were 37,730 children aged 10 and above in care in 2012 – a figure which rose to 47,040 in 2018. For those aged 16 and above, 13,580 were in care in 2012, and by 2018, this figure increased to 17,330. Gang violence, sexual exploitation and trafficking are forcing a rising number of teenagers into care, the Children’s Commissioner has warned.    read more

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