This chapter uses publicly available data on children looked after to consider the significant increases in the numbers of children being placed in care over the last decade. The findings that are presented and discussed are drawn from a larger doctoral research study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which sought to find explanations for the variation in rates of children looked after between local authorities in Wales.
The overview provided by the data highlights the impact of factors such as the death of Peter Connelly on rates of children in care in both England and Wales. However, it also shows that, unlike in England, rates of children looked after were rising in Wales before that event and have risen more significantly since, suggesting that other factors are also at work.
As well as the difference in the rates that children are taken into care in Wales relative to England, what is shown is the marked differences between local authorities in Wales. The picture here is complex, with some local authorities having rates that are consistently above the national average and conversely some that are shown over time to be consistently below. There are also some that appear to buck the prevailing trend for reasons that are not clearly understood.
One of the factors briefly explored in the chapter that helps to explain some of the variation between local authorities is the overall levels of deprivation within each authority. The amount of ‘neighbourhoods’ that a local authority contains that are in the 10% most deprived in Wales are shown to have a statistical relationship to that local authority’s rate of children looked after. Whilst this relationship doesn’t explain all of the difference that is observed, it does highlight the impact of poverty on children’s chances of being placed in care.
Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales
This is the third in a blog series relating to the recently released book "Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales". Over the next few weeks we will be uploading blog posts from chapter authors in the lead up to the launch event for the book. Tickets to the launch are available here.
Read the other blogs in this series:
Chapter 6 - Gemma Allnatt
Chapter 7 - Dr Alyson Rees