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Recession Road: Scotch Corner

Phil Coomes | 13:15 UK time, Wednesday, 16 September 2009

This post is from our Recession Road series, part of our special report on the global downturn.

Janice Wood

When I was a kid I thought getting to Scotch Corner meant we were in Scotland. Clearly we are still in North Yorkshire. This notable junction is where travellers separate off depending on whether they are going north-east (A1) or north-west (A66).

Just around the, er, corner from Scotch Corner is an independent fostering agency (IFA), set in beautiful woodland. Within seconds of turning off the busy drizzly A1 we are trundling along a leafy rural lane towards converted stables that house the Children's Family Trust - one of a few IFAs to operate as a charity.

Team manager for the north-east, Janice Wood, points to a map to illustrate the size of her patch. Their policy is to provide a "family for life" for children and teenagers who have usually already suffered countless losses in their lives.

She has 18 foster carers on the books at the moment, but they are continually looking to recruit more. The local authorities that refer children to them are often struggling to find enough places for them to go.

There is a feeling among Janice's colleagues in the sector that the recession is exacerbating an already difficult situation, with growing numbers of children coming into the care system.

Powerless written on a flip chart"There's just a general impression - and that's all we can say it is - that we are getting busier. Families are finding it difficult to cope, it's not a coincidence that this is happening now."

She is keen to stress that there are other major factors influencing the situation, such as the recent Baby P case in which social services were criticised for not removing the child from an abusive situation.

The reasons children end up in care always fall into the same categories of neglect or abuse, says Janice. The parents have mental health or drug and alcohol abuse problems, there is domestic violence, or stress from problems with unemployment, poverty and homelessness.

"It doesn't take a genius to work out that if you take all those things together and then add in a recession, it's going to have an effect.

"A recession just puts things up a notch. Children get caught in the cross-fire. A recession is an adult thing but they often get the brunt of it."

You can read an explanation of our Recession Road series here. Words: Paula Dear; Images: Phil Coomes.

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