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Comment: Research by the Uni of Oxford on children’s homes...

ADCS President, Steve Crocker, said:

“The children in our care deserve the very best care that meets their needs and gives them every opportunity to thrive in life, ideally as close to the people and places they know as possible. However, finding the right placements for children when and where they need it, is a significant challenge when the number of children in our care is increasing and demand for places far outstrips supply. Moreover, local authorities are the only purchasers of placements so providers can pick and choose who to accept and at what cost.

“This important research fills a gap in our knowledge about the impact of the creeping privatisation of the children’s residential care market. Researchers raise several important issues worthy of further discussion and debate, especially around the quality of care and the ability of local authorities to find the upfront investment in building new public sector provision. These findings should certainly be considered by the government as it continues to develop its response to the independent review of children’s social care.

“Children’s services have long operated in a mixed economy with what were previously small scale private, voluntary, charitable and community providers involved in the delivery of services locally, however, ADCS remains concerned about the growing levels of risk in the system due to rapid changes in ownership, leading to a dash by new owners for excess profits and considerable levels of borrowing and debts held by some private companies offering care placements. Should any of these providers fail, no single local authority could step in, and it would be children who suffer the greatest consequence.

“ADCS has long held the position that the government needs to step in to abolish excess profit making in this sector and invest, or help cash strapped local authorities invest in, new, not for profit provision.”


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