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Comment: Ofsted children with complex needs report

ADCS President John Pearce, said:

“Finding homes for children in care is a challenge because of a lack of suitable homes nationally. The needs of children have changed over recent years, for example, children are coming into care with increasingly complex needs, often as teenagers, and local authorities are facing growing difficulties accessing the right support and homes for them. We want children in care to stay as close to the people and communities they know but this is not always possible due to a lack of local provision. Local authorities are the only purchasers of placements, yet providers can pick and choose which referrals to accept or not, with some providers increasingly reluctant to accept children with highly complex needs, as they perceive it may impact their Ofsted rating. We recognise Ofsted does not want its work to impact on a local authority’s ability to place children, however, this can be an unintended consequence of the current regulatory framework supported by inspection. We urgently need a comprehensive national placements strategy to ensure the right homes are available in the right places for all children who need them whatever their needs. As well as a comprehensive review of the regulatory system and care standards, with a view to achieving a more fluid system that better meets the needs of children.

“When a place in a secure children’s home or inpatient mental health bed is required but not available, local authorities have no choice but to create bespoke arrangements within the community, while waiting for a permanent placement to become available. This is always a last resort, but the report demonstrates that this tailored provision can be thoughtful, considered and crucially work well for the child. Local authorities are doing what they can to meet children’s needs, such as establishing their own children’s homes to accommodate children with complex needs, but we need government’s support with this. A wholly new approach and therapeutic offer is required for children with acute needs, as is a range of appropriate step-down arrangements in the community so that children can be successfully reintegrated into the community when they are ready.”


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