Stability Index Comment
Commenting on the publication of the OCC’s new Stability Index, Stuart Gallimore, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said:
“Finding safe, loving and stable placements that meet the needs of all children in our care is a priority for local authorities. The Stability Index brings attention to this important area of practice, however, headline figures mask the complexities of an individual child’s journey in care. There is often a need to offer short term placements to support good matching processes between families and children, for example. The number of children experiencing multiple types of instability within the same year is worrying, but this represents around 3% of the total care population. All children’s services departments have intensive strategies in place to keep placement instability to a minimum, recognising that the children and young people concerned have often had difficult early life experiences and just like other children benefit greatly from a stable, nurturing environment.
“Any level of instability is a cause for concern, but it is important to consider these findings in context. Local authorities are looking after more children, many of whom have increasingly complex needs, with no commensurate additional government funding and no nation-wide strategy to address the national shortage of foster carers or residential care placements. This is despite research indicating greater choice leads to greater placement stability. As more and more schools become academies the ability of local authorities to compel them to prioritise the admission of children in care is also diminished which can result in these children waiting months for a school place. All that learning cannot easily, if ever, be regained which leads to further disadvantage. We ask government to support measures that would enable local authorities to drive improvements in stability for many vulnerable children and young people.”