Rate of Looked After Children rate per 10,000 population (0-17 years).
At year end for 2020/21, there were 504 looked after children in Shropshire. This was an increase of 26% from the 399 children looked after at the end of 19/20.
This increase in demand relates to an increase in children requiring accommodation due to safeguarding concerns. Those concerns range from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, substance misuse, parental mental health and domestic abuse. As such we have seen an increase in the number of care proceedings being initiated. The majority of children entering the care system do so subject to court proceedings. All children entering care are subject to senior management approval and we closely monitor and track all children.
During the year 2021/22, there has been a further increase in the number of children looked after to 545 at the end of Q1. This represents an 8% increase against year end 20/21.
During Q1 21/22, 63 children started to be looked after, this is 50% greater than the 42 children starting in the same period in 20/21. Ceasing levels are similar, with 22 children ceasing in 21/22 to date, 1 fewer than the 23 who ceased during Q1 last year.
The age profile of Shropshire’s current looked after children (at the end of Q1) shows that 50% are age 10 or over. This is contrasted with the age range of those children who became looked after during the year. Here, the highest proportion (66%) of children are between 0 and 9, with 44% age 0 to 4, indicating that it is more often younger children who are becoming looked after.
There are a range of reasons for the increase in children looked after, including large sibling groups, increase in neglect, delays in court proceedings being completed, delays to exiting children's care plans. The service is doing an in-depth analysis of the reason for the increase to ensure the increase is fully understood and projections can be made.
The rate of children looked after has increased to 90 children per 10,000 U18s. This is higher than the 2019/20 SN average (60.4) and England average (67). 2020/21 comparator data expected Oct 2021.