Children in Hertfordshire are spending longer in care because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report.
Hertfordshire county council said there were over 800 children in care as of the end of September, which is said to be the highest level for some years.
Children in care in Hertfordshire at the end of September
The report suggests the increase is a reflection of the impact Covid-19 has had on the care system, and highlighted a range of reasons for the this, including:
Delays to court proceedings
Impact of the pandemic on carrying out direct work with families in order to facilitate children and young people returning home
According to the report, court delays are also having a huge impact on the council's budget for looked after children.
The council is predicting a £1.6m Covid-related spend in this area in 2020/21 'principally due to fewer children and young people leaving care.'
This spending relates to the ongoing costs of contact between children and their parents, care placements lasting for longer and increases on caseload for social workers.
While the report suggests these costs will remain high over the next 18 months, staff at the council say they're confident things will soon get moving again.
I think it was really during the main lockdown period which has caused the backlog. So I think we are confident that things will start to move forward now.
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