Children in care are being placed too far from home, Ofsted has announced.
The education and children’s services inspectorate has published a new report entitled “From A Distance” which shows that eight thousand children have been moved outside their homes areas.
Nine local authorities were studied and over 92 individual cases. It was discovered that 12 percent of children in residential care are housed more than 20 miles from their home communities.
The study showed that children placed further away often had less than sufficient access to local services such as healthcare, education and social support.
The report explains that living reasonably close to their original home can contribute hugely to the welfare of a child in care, and suggests that local authorities should be doing more to place children closer to home:
“Local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation to meet the needs of looked after children in their community. This duty is supported by statutory guidance that makes it clear that children should live in the local authority area, with access to local services and close to their friends and family, when it is safe to do so.
“However, in 2013, more than one in 10 looked after children lived outside their home local authority area and more than 20 miles from their home community. Young people who live in children’s homes were three times more likely to be living away from their home area than children who are looked after by foster carers.”
The report also recognises that in some cases children are placed further from home for their own protection, but that there was evidence to show that local authorities were not doing enough to ensure that children placed further away had access to local services:
“Children placed out of area were less likely to receive effective educational and health support than if they were living within their home area, or nearby. The further a child was living from his or her home area, the less effective that support became.”