MPs today launched a Parliamentary inquiry into the record number of children who are ‘farmed out’ to live in children’s homes miles away from family and friends.
According to the latest figures, nearly two thirds (64%) of all children living in children’s homes now live out of borough - up from 46% in 2012.
Six years ago there were 2,250 children sent to live in homes out of area. Today there are 3,990. This represents a 77% increase.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, which will carry out the inquiry, is concerned that this ‘sent away generation’ is in danger of falling prey to paedophiles and drugs gangs.
The Department for Education estimates that the number of children in out of area placements who have gone missing has increased from 990 in 2015 to 1,990 in 2018.
This compares to a 31% increase for children who go missing from children’s homes within their own borough.
The inquiry will focus on the risks faced by children and young people who go missing from out of area placements and how their safety can be ensured.
Evidence suggests that being uprooted and placed a long way from family, friends and social workers leaves children isolated and is often a factor that causes them to run away.
‘It shames us all that thousands of vulnerable children continue to be farmed out to live miles and miles away from home despite a government promise to clampdown on numbers,’ said Ann Coffey, the chair of the APPG and the inquiry.
‘Isolated and alone without family, friends or local social workers to help protect them, they become sitting ducks for those who wish to prey on them. They are targeted by paedophiles and drugs gangs and can become trapped in a brutal world.’
The children’s homes system is ‘broken’ and is ‘catastrophically failing children’, Ms. Coffey added.