Chil­dren’s ser­vices ‘in cri­sis’ be­cause of cuts

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Sally Weale

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties’ chil­dren’s ser­vices are be­ing re­duced to cri­sis-driven fire­fight­ing be­cause of crip­pling cen­tral gov­ern­ment fund­ing cuts, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by three char­i­ties.

The lead­ing chil­dren’s char­i­ties are warn­ing that early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices have been hard­est hit by bud­get cuts.

As a re­sult, coun­cils can only af­ford to get in­volved once chil­dren have reached cri­sis point, which may then re­sult in more costly in­ter­ven­tions such as be­ing taken into care, the char­i­ties say.

The re­port by the Chil­dren’s So­ci­ety, Ac­tion for Chil­dren and the Na­tional Chil­dren’s Bureau says coun­cil spend­ing on early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices, de­signed to spot signs of ne­glect and abuse, fell by 40% be­tween 2010-11 and 2015-16.

The £2.4bn gov­ern­ment fund­ing cuts come at a time of grow­ing de­mand for chil­dren’s ser­vices, with a 108% in­crease in child pro­tec­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The re­port also claimed that the poor­est chil­dren had been the hard­est hit, with the most de­prived coun­cils in Eng­land cut­ting spend­ing on chil­dren’s ser­vices by 23%, six times as much as the least de­prived coun­cils.

Among the early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices af­fected by the cuts are par­ent­ing classes, chil­dren’s and youth cen­tres, sub­stance mis­use pre­ven­tion, teenage preg­nancy sup­port and short breaks for dis­abled chil­dren.

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