550 children in care for over a 12 month period in Western Trust
Five hundred and fifty children and young people were in care continuously for twelve months or longer in the Western Trust at September 30 last year.
This amounted to 20 per cent of the 2,763 children in care across the north.
The figures are contained in the Department of Health’s newly published ‘Children in Care in NI 2019/20 Statistical Bulletin.’
The report shows there has been a gradual increase of children in care for 12 months or longer over the years 2013/14 to 2019/20 in the Western Trust area.
In 2014, there were 415 looked after children but that has now risen by over 100 to 550.
The bulletin shows that 12 per cent of children in care in the Western Trust were living with a disability in 2019/20.
The majority of the 550 children in care (47 per cent) were placed in kinship foster care.
Non-kinship foster care accounted for 33 per cent of placements. This included children placed for adoption and with independent foster care providers.
Twelve per cent were placed with a parent, five per cent were in residential care, and two per cent of placements were unspecified as ‘other.’
For all Trusts, apart from the Western Trust, the most prevalent placement was non-kinship foster care followed by kinship foster care.
The Western Trust had lower proportions of children placed with parents and slightly higher proportions of children in residential care compared with the other Trusts.
The Western Trust had the lowest proportion of children with placement moves during the last year (13 per cent).
The proportion of children with a Personal Education Plan (PEP) in the Western Trust was 82 per cent - the highest percentage of any Trust in the north.
The report explains how a Personal Education Plan (PEP) is a ‘continuous record of the child/young person’s school history and identifies what needs to happen for a child/young person in care to fulfil their potential by planning and establishing clear targets for the child/young person relating ton learning achievements.’
The report observed some demographic differences between Trusts.
The ethnic grouping of the children across the whole of the north in 2019/20 indicated that 94 per cent (2,599) were White, and of the remaining 6 per cent (163), 62 were Irish or Roma Travellers, 31 were Black and 70 were of Mixed, ‘Other’ or ‘Unknown’ ethnic backgrounds.
In terms of religion four fifths of the children in the Western Trust were from a Catholic background (79 per cent), compared to 28 per cent in the Northern Trust.