The Children’s Commissioner’s 2019 Stability Index shows a growing number of teenagers, who have “complex needs” and more expensive living arrangements, have entered care.
Teenagers were being taken into care because they were experiencing issues including criminal or sexual exploitation, going missing from home and failing to get protection by their parents.
The number of children aged over 13 going into care rose 21% between 2012/13 and 2017/18, while the number of those over 16 in care grew by 25% from 2013/14 and 2017/18.
The index showed 23% of children and care are aged over 16, with 39% aged between 10 and 15.
The rise in older children in the system has caused council to spend increasingly high amounts on a small number of individuals with acute needs, the index found.
The findings also showed older children and teenagers who enter care experience much higher levels of instability, including moving two or more times within a year.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said the index showed the care system was “playing catch up”.
Ms Longfield added: “There are an increasing number of teenage children in the care system and too many of them are pin-balling around the system, changing home and family, school and social worker.”
She warned that the current situation was “completely unsustainable”.
“All children in care have a right to expect that the state does all it can to improve their chances of growing up in stable and loving environments.”
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