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Over 3,000 children in care in Northern Ireland

The number of children recorded as living in care in Northern Ireland reached a record high in 2018.

Over 3,000 children are the subject of a Care Order, and just under 10 per cent of those have been in care for 10 years or longer. The majority of children have been in care for less than 3 years.

The decision to place a child in care is only taken if it is believed that:

  • They are suffering harm or are likely to; or
  • The care they are receiving or likely to receive is not what would be reasonably expected of a parent and will cause harm; or
  • The child is beyond parental control.

The mental health of the parents can often be a factor, as can problems with drugs and alcohol resulting in neglect of the children. Many children who are taken into care will have suffered abuse.

There is a higher level of social services involvement in deprived communities, and Koulla Yiasouma, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People says economically challenged people “need more support”.

A new campaign was launched at the end of last year to encourage more people to become adoptive parents in Northern Ireland. Almost 700 of the children in care are aged under five and could potentially remain in care to the age of 18. There are around 90 adoptions in Northern Ireland every year.

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