£1.5m court costs for children at risk
Protecting children at risk of abuse or harm will cost Kent County Council an estimated £1.5 million in court fees this year, figures show.
KCC is forecasting it will have initiated 288 new care proceedings by the end of 2013-14, with each costing on average £5,500 in court fees. That is 27 more than last year but less than in 2011-12, when cases peaked at 302.
Cllr Jenny Whittle (Con), KCC cabinet member for specialist children’s services, said it only went to court to secure care orders when necessary. She added: “I do not think we are risk averse although I do think that in 2009-10 [the year of the Baby P scandal] we did, like other authorities, act more pre- maturely. I am looking at what we can do to ensure children are returned to their families more quickly [but] every case is different.”
KCC says the amount is being affected by a requirement on councils to speed up care proceedings. They are now expected to complete care proceedings within 36 weeks.