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Exploitation of Missing Looked-after Children — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:27 pm on 23rd October 2019.

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Photo of Ann Coffey Ann Coffey Independent, Stockport 3:27 pm, 23rd October 2019

I recognise some of the good initiatives from the Department for Education over the years, but as I said there are not enough places to allow local authorities to make a choice about what is in the best interests of the child. They are placing children in placements hundreds of miles away because they have no option. That is why we are urging the Department to take a lead responsibility, not only by putting more money into preventing children from entering the care system, which is important, but by dealing with the care needs of existing children in the care system, so that they have the choice of staying nearer home. That choice should not be dictated by the market. Does the Minister have any plans to convene a strategy group and consider how the market is functioning, just as was done in 2012, and to find a way forward to support local authorities and voluntary organisations to develop provisions that meet the needs of children?