More than £84 million in funding will be made available to “strengthen families and keep children out of care”, it has been announced.
The news marks the 30th anniversary of the Children Act, which aims to keep children in the family home wherever possible.
The Department for Education (DfE) said up to 20 councils will receiving funding to help improve their practice “so that fewer children need to be taken into care, giving them the best chance to succeed in life”.
Commenting on the announcement, the Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the schemes will be targeted towards councils where there are persistently high numbers of children being taken into care.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a stable, loving family and go through life confident that someone always has your back,” he said.
“But for too many children, this is simply not a reality. With the number of children in care rising, many of these children face a far starker version of reality, one where their parents are in the grips of their own nightmare, through mental health problems, the trauma of domestic violence or an addiction.”
He added: “We must assist those parents facing difficulties and work with them to strengthen their family relationships so they can properly support their children. In the year that sees the 30th anniversary of the Children’s Act, we must stay true to its heart – that where possible and safe, children are best brought up, loved and supported by their parents.”
The news comes after recent research which found that children in care perform poorly in school compared to their peers. For example, children in care are half as likely to meet the expected standards at age 11 and are a quarter as likely to achieve good GCSEs.
Likewise, councils have been lambasted in recent years for failures to safeguard children’s best interests. Earlier this year, a review of Hertfordshire Council’s independent reviewing officer (IRO) service described the authority as “utterly failing” and was fined £50,000 after letting two twin children be moved to separate homes.
For more details about the funding project, please click here.