PLANS to reduce the number of children coming into care in Newport being drawn up by the city council, after a significant rise over the past year.

The Welsh Government is asking each council to outline how they will reduce the number of looked after children, with increases in Wales currently much higher than in England.

Figures from March 2018 show there were more than 6,400 looked after children in Wales, representing an eight per cent increase on the previous year.

A report shows numbers in Newport were steady until 2017/18 when there was a “significant spike.”

As of March 31, there were 375 children in care in Newport - 50 (15 per cent) more than the previous year and up from 280 in 2017.

Numbers are expected to rise by a further 55 this year, according to a report.

One of the reasons for the rise was a jump in the number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) coming into care.

A higher rate of domestic abuse than in similar local authorities and an increase in large families are also thought to be among factors for the rise in Newport.

A single child coming into care through the courts will cost at least £20,000, in the simplest of cases.

The costs of housing children in care can be as much as £306,800 for a child aged over 11 in residential care.

A proposed three-year reduction strategy looks to slow the rise at first, with a target of 410 children in care by the end of this year.

A target of reducing numbers by 10 to 15 per cent is proposed in year two, and five per cent in 2021/22.

The new strategy stresses the importance of early intervention and prevention, to avoid taking children into care.

It says a “shift in culture” will be required, to manage increased levels of risk before a child enters care.

A council report says the current rise in numbers is ‘untenable’ – both for the outcomes of children and financial costs.

“Early intervention and prevention to avert the need for children becoming looked after is preferable in terms of both cost avoidance and potentially better outcomes,” the report says.

Reducing the number of children who are in long-term care is also key to the strategy.

A new children’s home opened in January, with a second to open later this year, helping to reduce numbers of out of authority placements.

Newport council’s cabinet will discuss the new strategy next Wednesday.