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Derbyshire children in care increases by a third in four years

Worrying figures reveal the number of Derbyshire children in care has increased by a third in the last four years at a rate triple that of the national average.

Derbyshire County Council’s Revenue Budget Report 2023/24 revealed there were 1,004 children in care across the county as of November 2022, an increase of 32 per cent in the last four years.

The figure was highlighted by Councillor Ruth George in a meeting about the authority’s budget on Wednesday (February 15), in which she pointed out the increase was considerably higher than the national average.

“Across the whole country of England children’s social care placements have gone up nine per cent, compared to 32 per cent in Derbyshire.

“That represents untold suffering to those children and to their families,” she said.

The Labour councillor put this down to what she called ‘huge cuts’ made by the Conservative administration to early help services since 2018.

She continued: “With average placement costs up 40 per cent as the paper points out, it’s not just vulnerable children of families who have suffered, it’s the council’s own budgets that they now see those huge cost pressures of children in care, created by unwise cuts that councillors on this side advised against so strongly.”

She accused her opponents of knowing the ‘cost of everything but the value of nothing’.

However Conservative member Councillor Alex Dale argued Labour was not blameless when it came to reductions in children’s services.

“During the Labour administration from 2013 to 17 you cut the number of youth workers in half, they did it very quietly via the back door, they didn’t draw attention to it, but they definitely did it,” he said.

He said the cost of placements was ‘driven by demand’, but argued: “Our numbers of children in care are pretty in kilter with most of the rest of the country.”

Coun Dale said early help services were still available to families, but was now delivered directly through schools.

Derbyshire County Council is carrying out rolling recruitment of foster carers to help the increasing numbers of young people in need of a safe home.

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