School closures during the first national lockdown had a dramatic impact on the number of child-protection referrals made to local authorities, leaving them with a “legacy of abuse and neglect” to respond to.
Inspection agency Ofsted’s annual report also says that while the number of referrals rose after schools reopened, it had yet to return to previous levels – raising fears that abuse could be going undetected.
Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “This report is extremely concerning and reinforces issues we have previously highlighted, including the significant pressures that children’s services are under.
“As the impact of the pandemic becomes clear, councils expect to see a significant rise in referrals to children’s social care and demand for wider children’s support services.
“The extra funding for adult and children’s social care announced in the recent Spending Review is positive, but will not, on its own, be enough… Significant additional funding for children’s social care will be needed if we are to provide the support children, young people and their families need, when they need it.
“This includes early help funding to avoid families reaching crisis point, and sufficient funding for those children and families who need more intensive child-protection responses. As a starting point, the £1.7 billion removed from the Early Intervention Grant since 2010 should be reinstated.”
Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Children’s Social Care, paid tribute to teachers, social workers, childminders, leaders and everyone working in education and children’s social care, and thanked them for “going above and beyond in the most trying circumstances, and continuing to put children and young people first”.