England is facing a social care crisis.
In 2020, 80,080 children were placed into care in England. When compared to 2010, during which 64,370 children were placed into care, this represents a staggering 24% increase. Whilst these figures alone are concerning, there has also been a significant increase in the number of local authority applications being made to social services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
An application to place a child into care is made when they are suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm. – As measures to combat the pandemic including self-isolation, home schooling and lockdowns were enforced and tensions within the home were in many cases intensified, England witnessed reported increases in domestic violence, alcoholism and substance abuse. In fact, the Office of National Statistics have reported that by mid-May 2020, there had been a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases referred to victim support.
As children were in many instances unable to ‘escape’ to the safe haven of the school environment with Government guidance to ‘Stay at Home’, victims found themselves restricted to the homes in which violence was exacerbated by financial pressures, mental health issues and addiction. During this period, vulnerable children were identified as exempt from school closure restrictions, however this was deemed to be at parents’ discretion as to whether the child attended.
Social care services have also faced funding cuts for a number of years which has in turn resulted in cut backs to early prevention methods and tools available to social workers. As the pandemic has only heightened the challenges faced, with limited early prevention options now available, issues that it may have been possible to alleviate within the home setting have in many cases spiralled to become much more serious incidents.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw a 65% increase in calls between April and June 2020, compared to the first three months of the year clearly demonstrating just how significant the pressures within many homes had become and in turn unsafe for the victims of abuse.
The challenges of the social care sector are mirrored in the family courts where backlogs of care proceedings are becoming increasingly challenging. In fact, in January – March 2021, care proceedings were taking 43 weeks on average to complete. – A time during which the child involved in facing further uncertainty.
The impact of domestic abuse and neglect will continue to have reverberations on the lives of those who have been victim within the home unless they are able to access the support they need. Whilst no amount of compensation will rectify what has happened, it can assist with accessing the physical and psychological assistance these children and families will need.
Victoria Price, Director at Price Slater Gawne commented
“At Price Slater Gawne, we have worked with many adults and children who have survived domestic abuse and neglect within the home. We understand that no amount of compensation will ever erase what has happened to them but it can assist some way in helping with recovery, whether that be from access to counselling or as an investment in their future through education or a particular interest to pursue.
We recognise that the challenges of the last 18 months will have lifelong reverberations for many people and we are committed to helping them access the support that they need”.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this article, please contact Victoria Price in confidence on 07792 952458, by email to Victoria.Price@psg-law.co.uk or via our livechat facility. We are here to help and help you take the next step towards a brighter future.