Comment: OCC report on out of area placements

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said:

“Councils work hard to find suitable placements for children in our care by taking a partnership parenting approach with colleagues in health, schools and others to ensure children and young people get support when and where they need it. Being close to family, friends and school is obviously desirable but there are good reasons why a child might be placed further away, including their safety or if a very specialist placement is necessary to meet their needs. We try hard to take children’s views into account but, as Sir Martin Narey recognised in his review of residential care, finding ‘the right placement’ is more important than location. Many out of area placements are made in bordering areas and this can be a positive thing for children. This reality isn’t reflected well in the report and some of the figures lack context, kinship care and youth custody placements are included here.

“As the number of children in our care increases so too does our need for high quality placements, in the right places. The government has, at times, overlooked its own role in tackling the issues raised here. Placement sufficiency continues to be a key issue for virtually all councils across the country but there is no national strategy to recruit more foster carers, to increase capacity in children’s residential homes or to address geographic mismatch of placements. Local authority budgets have been halved since 2010 and this is impacting on our ability to develop new provision. Other challenges include the fact that councils cannot direct an academy school to admit a child in care as they can a maintained school meaning it can take several weeks or even months to secure a steady school placement.

“ADCS will fully engage with the government’s upcoming review of the care system, which we hope will address our concerns around placement sufficiency and the changing nature of the placement market more generally. The role of private equity firms and the level of profit being generated by some companies from the care of vulnerable children is wholly inappropriate and the level of risk now apparent in the system is very concerning.”

ENDS



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