MORE children are ending up in the care of Fife Council due to poor parenting, neglect and emotional abuse.
And the increasing need for the Council to step in to protect youngsters has contributed to a projected overspend of £3.5m in the social work budget for 2012/13, which will now be met from the Council’s reserves.
There is also an increasing demand on social work services to provide support to older people, with around £2m of the overspend due to rising costs and the need to provide more residential, home care and complex care packages.
However, despite significant funding difficulties, Council leader Alex Rowley stressed: “No child at risk in Fife will not receive the support they need because of this, and any elderly person in need of care services will still get those services.”
Since 2006, the number of looked after children has risen by 38 per cent, from 626 to 866 as of December 2012.
The increase in numbers has been linked to issues of poor parenting, neglect and emotional abuse, often associated with substance misuse and domestic violence.
There is also an increasing number of younger children being placed in care through the Children’s Hearing system.
Cllr Rowley said: “We are facing a very real and very shocking situation where we have over 850 children in Fife being looked after by the council.
‘‘This is not just about money - it’s not acceptable that these numbers are continuing to rise and this is an issue that should concern everyone.”
Councillors at this week’s executive committee meeting agreed a review should be carried out into the funding requirements of the social work service, although this won’t be completed before the Council has to set its budget for 2013/14 next month.