At the end of March 2017 Herefordshire was supporting 115 children subject to a child protection plan. The local rate of children with a child protection plan in place was 31.9 per 10,000 children, statistically significantly lower than the rates for the West Midlands region and England (45.3 and 43.3 per 10,000 children respectively).
Between the 31 March 2016 and the same day in 2017 there was a decrease in the local rate of children with protection plans (from 63.2 to 31.9 per 10,000 children respectively). This represents a statistically significant decrease, with 113 (49.3 per cent) fewer children being subject to a child protection plan between the two time points (Chart A below). Local performance analysis indicates that a risk adverse response was likely to be contributing to the high rates of children subject to a child protection plan. In response, during 2016, a more rigorous approach was taken to applying the thresholds for implementing child protection plans, and this has contributed to the observed decrease in the number of children subject to a child protection plan between 2016 and 2017.
A: Rate of children with a child protection plan in place in Herefordshire, the West Midlands region and England as of the 31st of March, 2013-2017
At the end of March 2017 there were 300 looked after children (LAC) in Herefordshire. This is an increase from the previous year, and contributes to a five year upward trend in the number of LAC (Chart B below). In 2017 Herefordshire’s rate of LAC was 84 per 10,000 children aged under 18; statistically significantly higher than the average rate for the five local authorities most similar to Herefordshire, and the England rate (Chart C below). Local performance analysis indicates that the reason for a high LAC population is partly due to a ‘risk averse’ response, with action being taken to ensure that need thresholds are applied appropriately. It is worth highlighting that fewer children started to be looked after in 2016/17 than in the previous five years; with the increased number and rate of LAC being explained by fewer children ceasing to be looked after. This finding is not surprising, as once a child comes under local authority care; it is often difficult to reunite them with their families. Therefore, it is expected that the local rate of LAC will gradually decrease over time; with the legacy of high LAC numbers taking some years to reduce as those currently under local authority care grow up.
B: Number of looked after children in Herefordshire as of 31st March, 2013-2017
C: Rate of looked after children in Herefordshire, England and a Comparator Group comprised of the five most similar local authorities as of the 31st of March, 2013-2017
Sources: Office for National Statistics Mid-Year Population Estimates 2012 through to 2016 and Children looked after in England including adoption: 2016 to 2017, Department for Education.
Last updated: Wednesday, May 02, 2018