The number of children referred to children’s social care services for support fell by almost a fifth during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to LGA analysis.
Latest figures show children’s social care teams received 41,190 referrals between April and June – around 18 per cent lower than the same period over each of the past three years.
They come as funding pressures and increased demand for child protection services prior to the pandemic led to councils being forced to scale back or cut universal and early help services altogether.
The LGA is calling on the Government to use the forthcoming Spending Review to ensure councils have long-term, sustainable funding to invest in preventative, universal and early help services so children, young people and families receive the practical, emotional, educational and mental health support they need.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “The impacts of the pandemic will be far reaching for some children, young people and their families. As this becomes clearer, more children and their families are likely to need support and councils expect to see a significant rise in referrals to children’s social care and demand for wider children’s support services.
“Some children and their families will need significant interventions, but others will just need some extra help to get through a difficult period. It will be essential that the right services can be there to support them and help them cope.
“It is vital that councils have the funding they need to support children, young people and families during the current phase of the crisis and beyond. Investment in crucial preventative services would mean help can be available when it is first needed and not when families and young people reach crisis point.”