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Children’s home sufficiency and children with complex needs

ADCS President John Pearce said:

“Local authorities face many challenges when finding a home for a child, particularly as we are seeing the emergence of more solo or low occupancy homes, meaning that need continues to outstrip supply. The uneven distribution of homes across the country is an added challenge with homes frequently opening up where housing is cheaper not where they’re needed most. There can also be an unwillingness of some providers to take children with any level of complexity, or increasingly serving immediate or inappropriate notice periods, for fear of the impact on their Ofsted rating. This can mean children and young people with high levels of need, who are equally deserving of our love, care and support, are placed miles away from their friends, families and communities. This is not in the best interests of children, and it has a knock-on effect on the availability of homes and local authority budgets. It’s a vicious cycle.”

“Local authorities increasingly can pay tens of thousands of pounds per week for places, yet providers can choose which children to accept and at what cost. It is wrong that some large private companies can generate significant profit from children and the public purse, particularly when this is set against a growing number of local authorities declaring they are effectively bankrupt, or close to this. The Competition and Markets Authority found that some of the largest private providers carry very high levels of debt, with particularly high levels of debt seen in private equity owned providers of children’s homes. There is an unacceptable level of risk in the system, should any of these providers fail, no single local authority could step in and children would suffer the greatest consequences. The government must act now to ensure the system is driven by children’s needs, and not maximising profit from public funds.”


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