5 Dec 2019

Commenting on new figures which show the number of children in care at March 31 rose 3.6% to 78,150 this year, Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society, said: 

“More investment is urgently needed to ensure families get early support which could help avoid the need for children to go into care – but also to ensure that when this is necessary young people get the support they need to stay safe and thrive. 

“Both have become more difficult amid the financial pressures facing councils, with the Local Government Association estimating that children’s services departments face a £3bn funding shortfall by 2025. 

“Without the right placement and support, children in care are more likely to be unhappy, go missing from home and be at risk of criminal and sexual exploitation. 

“That is why we are really concerned by the continued rise in the number of children being placed outside their home area, as well as the huge increase in number of young people being placed in semi-independent unregulated placements (39%) - which can be due to a lack of suitable local placements. 

“Too often, children in these placements do not get the help they need and some are cynically targeted by dangerous adults.  Children placed far from home may be more likely to go missing, but shortcomings in information sharing involving police forces and councils in the different areas mean not all are offered Return Home Interviews which are a crucial opportunity to understand why they went missing and help prevent this happening again. 

“It’s vital the law is changed to ensure that semi-independent supported accommodation for children is regulated and inspected, and a national action plan is needed, backed by funding, to ensure all areas can offer local placements to all children for where this is appropriate.” 

You can view the figures here.

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For more information, please contact Senior Media Officer Rob Devey on 07814 525918 or rob.devey@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508. 

Notes to editor 

The Children’s Society is a national charity that helps the most vulnerable children and young people in Britain today. We run services and campaigns to make children’s lives better and change the systems that are placing them in danger. We listen. We support. We act. Together with our supporters we’re improving the lives of children today and building hope for a better future.