COMMONS

Children in care being sent too far from home

12 March 2014

The Education Committee publishes its report into Residential children's homes, the Committee's Sixth Report of Session 2013-14, on Wednesday 12 March 2014.

Children in care should be found residential homes in their own areas and local authorities should ensure that they have enough suitable placements to make this possible.

Launching a report that examines the Government’s reforms of the regulations on residential children’s homes, Education Committee Chair Graham Stuart MP said today:

"It is also a matter of great concern that children are being placed in homes located in unsuitable and dangerous areas.  The Government must act if its latest reforms do not adequately address this problem.

Changes intended to improve the regulation of residential children’s homes are to be welcomed as a serious contribution to improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in our society. However, concerns remain and we agree with the Minister that there is more still to be done. 

These measures to improve children’s homes should start with the development of a wider programme to improve stability around placements and a national strategy for care provision, based on better assessments of need where residential homes are seen a positive choice, rather than a last resort."

Introduction of a 20 mile limit on placements

"We are deeply concerned about the number of children being placed in homes far from their own communities and families because of a lack of accommodation nearer to home. This should only happen where it is the right decision to best meet the needs of that child.  The Government should look at the impact of introducing a 20 mile limit on placements to increase incentives on local authorities to develop more facilities. 

Linked to this we have also been shocked by what we have learned about the locations in which some children’s homes are sited.  We suggest that the planning system may have a part to play here, but if the new area risk assessments do not bring about a clear improvement, then the Government must act". 

Recommendations

The report also calls for:

  • Better training and development of the workforce in children’s homes to ensure that staff and managers have the skills and outlook to create a culture which promotes the safety and welfare of children living in them.
  • A national protocol that allows children’s homes to deal with incidents of challenging behaviour to avoid the over-criminalisation of children.
  • Children to be given a greater role in selecting residential care workers.

Further information

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