By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter
More than 60 children are “trapped” in Nottingham’s care system because of court delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, councillors have heard.
Councillor Cheryl Barnard (Lab) told the Children and Young Persons Scrutiny Committee that the pandemic has caused an “enormous increase” in children entering the care system.
By the end of March, the number of children in Nottingham City Council care had jumped from 650 to 710.
Reasons behind the rise include family pressures, domestic violence and attempted suicides during lockdown.
Councillor Barnard said 63 children are being held up in the care system by court back logs, waiting to be placed with families and adoptive parents.
The portfolio holder for children and young people said the backlog is delaying “plans to achieve permanence for children.”
She added: “There is a backlog that is not being dealt with. We are raising this nationally to get some movement. The longer it goes on the greater the cost to us.”
But committee chair Councillor Carole McCulloch (Lab) said: “To say ‘every child matters’ then to leave them in a backlog rather than in a loving environment seems very strange to me.”
The committee heard Nottingham City Council is hoping to work with Leicester City Council which has seen a decline in the number of children placed in its care.
Councillor Jane Lakey (Lab) told the meeting, on July 29: “Leicester have cut numbers dramatically. I would like to look at that in more detail rather than dancing around the issue.”
The council also wants to increase the number of foster parents on its books. At the moment, the majority of foster parents who come forward are aged over 60.
“We need to look at recruitment and retention. They are an asset to the council, as they reduce our costs,” said Councillor Barnard.
Around sixty per cent of the council’s £72.5m budget for children and young people is spent on youngsters in care.