COUNCIL chiefs in Wigan insist they are striving to ensure children in care are given permanent homes as the number of looked after youngsters in the borough increased over the last 12 months.
Figures released by the government show that there are currently 510 youngsters who are classed as ‘looked after’ by the local authority, which is a six per cent increase from previous years’ figures of 480.
This makes Wigan eighth worst out of 24 authorities in the North West.
But when comparing population sizes, Wigan has a rate of 75 children per 100,00, which makes it 11th worst and has fewer than the North West average rate of 79.
The number of children who have ceased to be looked after and found permanent homes has gone down from 140 – 50 of which are 16 and above – in March 31 2012, to 125 - of which 35 are aged 16 or above – in March this year.
Nationally, the number of children being subject to care proceedings has increased by eight per cent in 2012/13.
This was after an 11 per cent rise in applications the previous year.
But a spokesman for the council said that the work of WWiSH Adoption Service, which covers Wigan, Warrington and St Helens, has helped to find more permanent homes for children,
Anne Goldsmith, director for children and young people at Wigan Council, said: “The rise in Wigan has been significantly less than the national rate of increase over the last three years. Most younger children who come into care through legal action are in the younger age range and it has been the 0 to five age group which has seen the greatest increase in Wigan.”
“The likelihood is that as the population increases, so will the number of children in care.
“We have a fantastic network of more than 200 foster carers in the borough who are doing a marvellous job of providing a loving home and family for these children.
“With the younger children our plans will often be to find an adoptive family for them to move on to and grow up in. The WWISH adoption service is providing an important and essential way of us meeting the needs of the children and providing long term secure care with loving families.”