ADCS response to the APPG report on missing children

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said:

“Finding the right placement for children in care and keeping them safe is a priority for all local authorities. Whilst placing children close to their community, family and friends is preferable there are good reasons why a child might be placed further away including where there are concerns about their safety or their needs can’t be met locally. The child’s voice is critical but choosing the right placement can, at times, conflict with their wishes. As Sir Martin Narey recognises in his review of residential care ‘the right placement for a child is more important than location.’

“Any increase in the number of out of area placements must be viewed in the context of a 24% increase in the number of children in our care over the past decade, a shortage of foster carers and placements in residential children’s homes, as well as a mismatch between the location of these placements and need. That local authority budgets have been halved since 2010 but need has not cannot be overlooked either as this is impacting on our ability to develop suitable, local options for children and young people. ADCS strongly cautions against the view that all young people in out of area placements or unregulated provision are badly placed or left without support, indeed there are some excellent providers of services and the report does not recognise the important work they do.

“Safeguarding is everyone’s business and local authorities, the police, health services and schools, who share our legal safeguarding duty, and the community must work together to keep children safe, particularly if a child is new to the area. Any increase in children going missing is a concern for local authorities. This can often be a symptom of wider problems in a child’s life and is not restricted to children in care. However, we must pay special attention to this cohort, given local authorities’ particular responsibility for these children and their additional vulnerability. This is a complex area of policy and practice and it is important that we all work together to keep children and young people safe rather than pointing fingers at one another.

“The suggestion in this report that local authorities are acting as ‘recruiting sergeants’, is wholly inappropriate and we are in dialogue with the report authors directly.”


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