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Nuffield FJO comment on latest DfE figures on looked after children

Comment on Department for Education figures showing an increase in the number of looked after children and a fall in adoptions in England 2018 to 2019.

Lisa Harker, Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

“Although special guardianship placements, where children are placed in the care of a family member, are growing, adoption rates continue on a downward trend and there is a just cause for concern about the decreasing routes out of care for looked-after children.

“However, adoption or special guardianship will only ever be an option for a minority of children and by focusing on just one aspect of the system we risk missing the bigger picture. Why are the numbers of children being taken into the care of the State in this country growing? The goals must be to intervene much earlier and much more effectively to support families to safely care for their children, and to focus on achieving the best possible outcomes for those in care so that each child has the chance to thrive. This means expanding the spotlight to look at the system as a whole so we can make meaningful evidence-based change in the best interests of children – backed by political will and resources.”