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More Catholic children than Protestant children in care in Northern Ireland, new figures show

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There was a higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant children in care in Northern Ireland last year, new figures have shown.  (Gareth Fuller/PA)

There was a higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant children in care in Northern Ireland last year, new figures have shown. (Gareth Fuller/PA)

There was a higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant children in care in Northern Ireland last year, new figures have shown. (Gareth Fuller/PA)

There was a higher proportion of Catholic than Protestant children in care in Northern Ireland last year, new figures have shown.

In a new report from the Department of Health covering the 2016/17 period up to the end of September 2017, it is seen that 52% of children in care were Catholic compared to 40% of the children and young people who were Protestant.

As of the 2011 census, 48% of the population of Northern Ireland was Catholic or brought up Catholic, while 48% was Protestant or brought up Protestant or in another form of Christianity.

However, it was also shown that the Catholic population had a younger age distribution - accounting for the difference in the number of children in care last year.

The remaining 8% of children in care were either from another religion, had no religion, or marked unknown on the form.

The document from the Department of Health released on Friday examines a wide range of areas impacting children in care, including education, health, and possible criminal activity.

As of September 30 2017 there were 2,325 children and young people in Northern Ireland who had been in care continuously for 12 months or more.

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On education, it was seen that children in care in Northern Ireland are five times more likely to have special education needs when compared with the rest of the population.

The report notes that while some "some children in care will excel educationally", the general pattern is for children in care to underperform when compared to the general populace.

The figures showed that 24% of children in care have special education needs, compared to only 5% of the general population.

Just under three quarters (74%) of children in care achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A* to G, compared with 99% of the general school population.

Of the children in care aged 10 or over at September 30 2017, 7% had been cautioned or convicted of offence while in care during the year.

While it was slightly higher than the equivalent figure for England - 4% - there had been a steady decrease since 2009/10 when it stood at 10%.

The most common reasons for cautions or convictions were GBH/ assault, criminal damage and theft.


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