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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 Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education 3:27 pm, 23rd October 2019

I will certainly look at that. We need a combination of ways to prevent children from entering the care system—we will all agree that that is fundamental—and to tackle the supply of places. That is why we put an extra £40 million into creating more secure homes. The Government recognise that issue and are acting on it.

I recently announced an investment of £84 million over five years to support 18 local authorities as part of the Strengthening Families programme, and that is one example of how we are enabling children to stay safely with their families. We have also provided funding through our £200 million children’s social care innovation programme, £5 million of which is specifically targeted at residential care and expanding provision.

For the most vulnerable children who need secure provision, we have added a £40 million capital grants programme. We are funding local authorities—£110 million to date—to implement Staying Put arrangements, under which care leavers remain with their foster carers for longer. We are piloting the Staying Close programme with £5 million of funding to support ongoing links with a residential home.