THE number of newborn babies in Herefordshire being taken into care has risen over the last decade.

The number of Section 31 care orders made yearly on babies within one week of birth has risen steadily from zero ten years ago to nine made last year, a freedom of information request has revealed.

Section 31 care orders – under the Children Act 1989 – allow a court to place a child in the care of a designated local authority – such as Herefordshire Council – with responsibility being shared between the public body and the baby’s parents.

These orders are only made if the court is satisfied that harm or potential harm could occur if the child remains in the sole custody of the parents.

A total of 48 newborns have been subject to these care orders since 2008 with 38 of these babies being put into fostering care, six had placements with their parents and four were admitted to hospital.

Children and families cabinet member Elissa Swinglehurst said: “Children who become looked after often do so because the court is satisfied that the child is experiencing harm or could come to harm if he or she remains solely in the care of their parent or parents. Each case is considered on an individual basis.

“Ofsted noted in their recent inspection that the ‘vast majority of children in care live in good placements, where their outcomes improve’ and we are grateful to all of the foster carers who dedicate their lives to supporting the vulnerable children in the county.

“The council will continue to work with parents, carers and other partners to develop Herefordshire’s early help service to support families at an earlier stage, in order to address some of the issues that if they remain or deteriorate, could lead to the child being considered at risk of significant harm and therefore in need of social care involvement.”