William Eichler 24 December 2019

Thousands of children passed around care system ‘like parcels’, report warns

A new report published today has revealed that thousands of children in the care system are living ‘many miles’ away from family and friends.

Pass the Parcel: children posted around the care system, published today by the Children’s Commissioner for England, shows that at 31st March 2018, four in 10 children in care in England were living ‘out of area’.

It also shows that over 11,000 children are living more than 20 miles from their home postcode.

There were over 2,000 children living 100 miles away from their home postcode and almost a thousand children living over 150 miles away from the area they would call home.

It also reveals there has been a 13% rise in the number of children in care living ‘out of area’ over the last four years.

‘For most of us, Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends, yet many children in care are living many miles away from the place they call home because councils have nowhere suitable for them to live,’ said the Commissioner Anne Longfield.

‘Some children in care have told me they feel like parcels – passed from pillar to post, unsure where they even are on a map. We wouldn’t want this for our own children, and we shouldn’t accept it either for those children who rely on the state to look after them.

‘The Government has a manifesto commitment to review the children’s care system. They need to launch it in the New Year and it must be wide-ranging, independent and lead to concerted action and improvement.

‘The present system does provide love and support to thousands of children, but there are also many others who are living very vulnerable lives, many miles away from anyone they know. We have to make the state a better parent for these children.’

Responding to the Children Commissioner's report, Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board said: 'The welfare of all children is of the utmost importance to councils.

'Placing the children they care for outside of their home area is always a decision they take seriously and it may sometimes be needed to give them a new beginning. This could include removing them from abuse or neglect; for their own safety; to break gang affiliation; or to place them near other family members or to access specialist services.

'Councils will always try to place children in a home near family members if it is safe to do so. However the current soaring demand for places means that there aren’t always the necessary places in local areas.'

'Councils want to work with the new Government to ensure they fulfil their election promise to review the care system to understand these pressures,' she continued.

'The new government must also provide appropriate funding to ensure the right homes are available for all children in the right place whatever their needs.'

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