Number of children in the care system rises

The number of children in the care system in England is rising, official figures show.

Department for Education data shows the number of children in local authority care rose by 2% from 65,520 last year to 67,050 this year.

The figures reveal 28,220 children were taken into care during the year ending 31 March 2012, an increase of 3% from the previous year’s figure of 27,500.

The data also shows more youngsters were adopted, with 3,450 given a home.

Most affected are 10 to 15-year-olds, with 24,150 currently in care.

The main reason for children living apart from their parents is to protect them from abuse or neglect, with 41,790 of those currently in care falling in this category.

Family dysfunction was the next most common reason given for being taken into care, with 9,530 children falling into this category.

After this, “family in acute stress” affected 6,000 youngsters. And a total of 3,490 children had absent parents.

The number of babies less than a year old taken into care has also risen, from 3,680 last year to 4,190 this year.

The official figures show there has been a steady rise in children being taken into care since 2008, from 59,380 to 67,050 in 2012 – 7,670 more children in total.

The death after months of abuse of Peter Connelly, in north London in 2007, is thought to have contributed to the increase.

Social workers in the “Baby P” case were criticised for not removing the 17-month-old from his home sooner, prompting a mood of caution in the profession.

The figures also show that 3,450 looked after children were adopted during the year ending 31 March 2012.

This is the highest figure since 2007 and an increase of 12% from the 2011 figure of 3,090 adoptions.

These figures should please the coalition government, which has sought to make it easier for couples to adopt.