To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 20 July 2017 to Question 6504, what assessment she has made of the reasons why the number of looked after children placed in care homes, secure units and hostels outside their council boundary in England increased from 2,610 in March 2012 to 4,020 in March 2016.
The government is clear that the needs of the child are vital when making decisions about the right care placement. Local authorities have a statutory duty to consider the right placement for the child and take into account a number of factors, one of which is placement area.
Sometimes circumstances make it the right decision for a local authority to identify a placement outside of the child’s local area. For example, when a child is at risk from child sexual exploitation, trafficking or gang violence or when they need very specialist care. Out of area placements require approval from the Director of Children’s Services, and Ofsted monitors all placement decisions including out of area placements and challenges local authorities that need to improve. We are setting up a Residential Care Leadership Board, which will bring together representatives from local authorities and providers to explore how to improve commissioning of children’s residential placements. As part of this work, we expect the Board to assess data on the use of out of area placements.