Annual Stability Index reveals that the care system in England is struggling to cope with rising demand from teenagers

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The annual Stability Index is published today by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and its main finding highlights that the care system in England is struggling to cope with rising demand from teenagers. The study reveals that there were 25% more over-16s entering care during 2017/18 than 2013/14, a bigger increase than for any other age group. As a result, nearly a quarter of children in care (23%) are now over 16. A further two-fifths (39%) are aged 10 to 15.

John Simmonds OBE, CoramBAAF's Director of Policy, Research and Development, comments:

The publication of the Children’s Commissioners’ Stability Index for 2019 raises and reinforces a powerful message about the increasingly serious challenge to the care system. When a child or young person comes into care this will have resulted from a significant crisis in their own family. The primary responsibility of the care system is to provide a safe, secure and a stable environment that lasts for a long as the child needs it.  The stability index clearly identifies that the care system is seeing increasing numbers of children coming into care and increasing levels of instability particularly for older children across a range of measures. The needs of these children are complex and require a high level of expertise and resources to address them.

The care system has been under increasingly high levels of demand while facing significant reductions in resources to address these. This reflects general government policy towards public services resulting in a move towards ‘survival mode’ for local authorities and other services. This is deeply troubling and requires an action plan of considerable urgency – with children and young people and their experiences at the centre of that plan.