World Children's Day

A Look Into Children’s Welfare News On World Children’s Day 

November 20th marks World Children’s Day, a day to raise awareness of and support for children’s welfare across the globe; it highlights “the importance of a healthy childhood, and how we need to protect the rights and freedoms of children in order to ensure that they can grow into happy, healthy adults,” states the National Children’s Day UK.

In honour of the day, we take a look at recent reports and figures concerning children’s welfare. 

Number of children in foster care has increased 

The Office of National Statistics recently reported that the number of children in foster care has risen in the last year by 3%, meaning close to 55,000 children and young people had been placed in foster homes.   

This was a worrying figure when there was a decrease in the number of places available for children to be placed 

However, there was some good news to come out of the report by the ONS; the number of fostering households has increased by 2% in the last year, going against the recent trend of decline and at its highest level since 2015.   

Although currently not keeping up with the increase with children requiring foster care, the increase is good news for those children in need of foster homes. 

Increase in children abused due to their faith of belief 

Another report released, with less positive results, was the number of children identified by councils as having been abused due to their faith and belief.   

Councils have reported that currently they are dealing with an average of 38 cases a week where a child has been abused due to their faith or belief – this included witchcraft, spirit possession and black magic.   

Figures also showed that cases of children being identified as at risk or having suffered female genital mutilation (FGM) have increased to record levels.   

Anita Lower, the LGA’s lead on FGM and Chair of the National FGM Centre’s Advisory Board, said: 

“Rising cases of FGM and child abuse linked to faith or belief are extremely worrying and are destroying the lives of children and young people in communities across the country.

“Social workers have become better at identifying the signs of FGM and belief-related abuse, but the true incidence rate is likely to be higher as these crimes are under-reported.

“Councils are determined to tackle the practice of FGM and work with partner organisations to do everything possible to protect and support children and young people.

“To support this goal, children’s services departments need to have the funding to address the huge demand for help from children and their families and maximise the effectiveness of prevention and intervention work.” 

The Local Government Authority has said that the “next government needs to ensure that councils have the funding needed to take effective action to keep children safe from harm and abuse.” 

1 in 50 children in need are identified before birth 

The Department of Education, who published their annual figures, showing details of ‘children in need, found one in fifty children are now at risk and in need before they are even born.   

A child in need is defined under the Children Act 1989 as a child who is unlikely to reach or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health or development will be significantly impaired without the provision of services, or the child is disabled.” Characteristics of children in need 2018-2019 

The number of children in need has dropped in the last year, however, out of the almost 400,000 children classed as being in need, more than 7,000 of them had been placed in this category before they had even been born.   

The DoE has stated that unborn children are put on the list due to concerns regarding their safety or welfare, or due to problems already being faced by their parents.   

Domestic abuse has been listed as the most common reason for need for assessment, however the following most common identifiers are a family’s dysfunction, family in acute stress, a child’s disability or illness and absent parenting.  

In a time of austerity, with council budgets being cut to bare bones and politicians making promises right, left and centre, should there be more of a focus on ensuring that children’s rights to a safe environment be top of the list of manifestos?   

Throwing money at the problems is not a magic wand, nor is having one day to bring the issues to the forefront and highlight the importance of children’s rights and welfare.  The roots of the problems need to be addressed, more social workers and people with specialist knowledge need to be recruited and campaigns need to be run to highlight the issues.  

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