Addressing Social Inequalities – A Call to Action for Children in Care

Posted on: April 18th, 2024

The North – South Divide

A report recently published by Health Equity North on behalf of the Child of the North All-Party Parliamentary Group has highlighted the disproportionate number of children living in care in the North of England compared to the South, with the North East having the country’s highest number of children in care, quoting social inequality and child poverty to be the main contributing factor.

The report was prepared to show what life is really like for children in the care system, and details the immense pressure of work placed on social workers in the North due to more children entering the care system, as well as the substantial cost involved.

Research shows that children in care experience poor education, a lack of employment and housing, poor mental and physical health and a more substantial criminal history than those not in care, and there are numerous issues that need to be addressed.  These issues include, amongst other things, a decrease in the number of foster carers and the availability of placements in residential homes, homelessness, disadvantages in education and the vast cut in funding for adolescent services.

As a result of the findings made in the report, academics have called for urgent action to be undertaken in an attempt to address these issues, and try to balance the North-South divide.  Such actions include tackling child poverty, investing more funding in support services, more support for older children and children leaving care.

Our View

The starting point of the care system and the family justice system is and remains that children should remain in their birth families and that any state and court intervention should come as a last resort. Work is undertaken with families before court proceedings are started and this is called the pre-proceedings process. Many families do not understand the seriousness of the situation that they are in at this stage and delays in engaging in these processes can often lead to delays with referrals to external services that could be helping them remain as a family.

If we use a situation whereby a parent is misusing substances or dependent on alcohol, proper engagement with services for a period to enable them to show abstinence or reduction will enable them to positively demonstrate that they can care for their children. If these services are not available until crisis point arises then it is less likely that a family will be able to access the services quickly due to demands on local services.

As a firm, we work closely with parents and children who experience these difficulties, and it is vital that more funding be put in place so that the relevant support services can continue to be available to support and assist parents and children.   We would always also recommend that families seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity so that they can be guided through the process before any court action is even considered. This not only makes sure that they have the immediate advice, but it means that they can be supported throughout.

We continuously strive to support our clients where we can do so and ensure that we signpost our clients to the relevant support services where necessary.

The full publication can be located here;


Written by Kendra Payne – Trainee Solicitor in Public Law

Kendra Payne

Talk to the experts

If you require any of our legal services or you're not sure where to get started, please contact us at our Redcar High Street office and our solicitors will guide you every step of the way.

Contact Cygnet graphic