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How the pandemic exposed the crisis in children’s social care

A Guardian investigation into the state of children’s services in the last 18 months has revealed a sharp rise in social services referrals during lockdown, plus spiralling costs for mental health support and a bulging backlog in the family courts, with some councils buckling under the weight of the extra work brought by coronavirus.

The Guardian’s Helen Pidd tells Rachel Humphreys about one shocking case of a 12-year-old boy physically and chemically restrained in an NHS hospital last month as his local council had run out of options of finding a suitable home for him.

The Guardian’s social affairs editor, Patrick Butler, tells Rachel that while the pandemic of the past 18 months has exacerbated the problem, it did not create it. Instead, a patchwork child services system that was close to breaking point in some areas has been exposed in a way that should prompt urgent attention from central government.

Photograph: Veryan Dale/Alamy

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