Care applications have hit a record high, according to new figures from Cafcass.
The service received 998 care applications across England and Wales in February, the highest figure ever recorded for a single month. The total dropped to 925 applications last month, but this figure still represented a three per cent increase on March 2012.
Cafcass, which supports children involved in family cases, received a total of 11,055 care applications over the 12 months to March this year, a record-breaking figure and a significant eight per cent jump on the year to 2012.
Care applications for every month other than June 2012 set new records, the organisation reports, with the additional bank holiday in June the likely reason for the dip that month.
Meanwhile, the average amount of time required to process care cases dropped from 54 weeks in the year to 2012 to just 45 in the third quarter of the year to 2013.
Cafcass Chief Executive Anthony Douglas said: “Cafcass is working hard with courts, local authority services and agencies throughout the country to reduce unnecessary delays for children and young people who are going through care proceedings.”
“While pressure continues to come from the increase in application numbers, we know from our published research that these applications are being brought in a more timely and better prepared way than was the case in 2008, when we first witnessed a large increase following the Baby Peter case in Haringey.”