Children in Care: Location

Department for Education written question – answered at on 7 May 2024.

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Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Labour, Hammersmith

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to help ensure that (a) care leavers and (b) children in care are given placements as close as possible to (i) extended family members and (ii) others with whom they have important personal relationships.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Labour, Hammersmith

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many children in care were moved more than 20 miles away from their home in the 2022-23 financial year; and what steps she is taking to help reduce this number in future years.

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Labour, Hammersmith

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to his Department's statistical publication of 16 November 2023, what information his Department holds on the reasons for which children in care were in a placement more than 20 miles from their home in 2023.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The number of new placements for children looked after over 20 miles from their homes during the reporting year ending 31 March 2023 was 18,720. This represents 21% of new placements for children looked after during the year, compared to 67% who were placed 20 miles or less, and 13% where distance was not known or not recorded. If a child has more than one new placement then each will be counted.

Further information on placement distance and locality has been published in the ‘Children looked after including adoptions’ statistical release. This data can be found here: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/data-tables/permalink/aa5c9275-7f98-49e2-e5bb-08dc65d392eb.

The department does not collect data on the reasons for which a child may be placed more than 20 miles away from their home area.

The department wants to reduce out of area placements, however, they will always be part of the care landscape. Certain circumstances can make it the right decision for a child to be placed elsewhere, for example when they are at risk from sexual exploitation, trafficking or gang violence.

The department does recognise there are issues in the placement market, which is why the department has announced over £400 million in capital funding to help local authorities create more beds in their local areas helping to create an additional 560 placements across England.

The department is also investing £36 million this Parliament to deliver a fostering recruitment and retention programme so foster care is available for more children who need it. This will boost approvals of foster carers, as well as taking steps to retain the carers we have.

In addition to the support provided by local authorities, the government is providing over £250 million during this Spending Review period to support young people leaving care with housing, access to education, employment, and training, and to help them develop social connections and networks, to avoid loneliness and isolation.

The department has also committed to increasing the number of local authorities with family finding, befriending and mentoring programmes. Following a local authority grant funding application round, the department is now funding 50 programmes across 45 local authorities. These programmes will help children in care and care leavers to identify and connect with the important people in their lives and create safe, stable, loving relationships.

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