Councils urged to increase local care places

12 Mar 14
Councils need to ensure they have enough residential care places available to place children in their own areas, MPs said today

The Commons education committee said it was of ‘great concern’ that children were being placed in homes in unsuitable and dangerous areas.

Committee chair Graham Stuart said: ‘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 as a positive choice, rather than a last resort.

‘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.’

The committee’s report also recommended better training and development for people working in children’s homes, a national protocol that allows the homes to deal with incidents of challenging behaviour and for children to be given a greater role in selecting residential care workers.

But David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s children and young people board, said the flexibility to place children away from areas where abuse or neglect had occurred could be a ‘vital way’ of giving them a new start in life.

‘There is no one size fits all approach to meet the needs of individual children,’ he said. 

‘There are very good reasons why some children in residential homes are placed outside their home area. This could be for their own safety, to break gang affiliation, to place them near other family members or to access specialist services.’

But he agreed that the problem of clustering lots of children’s home in areas that may suffer from higher deprivation was a problem that needed to be address. Councils needed to have a bigger say over where private care homes are set up, Simmonds suggested.


CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?