Children in care sent to live over 300 miles away from family and friends

A recent Observer investigation revealed that children in care are being sent to live more than 300 miles away from their hometowns.

Vulnerable children in London, for example, are being shipped off to homes more than 250 miles from the city in what is being dubbed a “national scandal”. 

Some of the residential homes were found to be as far away from the capital as Perth, Glasgow, Knowsley, Leeds and Carlisle.

This has sparked concern amongst child welfare experts, with around 600 children in London alone being affected by the crisis. 

In addition to limited accommodation, part of the challenge is tackling “rising costs and profiteering on the backs of vulnerable children”, say local councils. 

However, leaders in the care sector have warned that relocating children away from their friends, families and critical support networks such as school and activity clubs can be detrimental to mental wellbeing and could even put them at increased risk of exploitation. 

The investigation, which used the Freedom of Information Act to aid its discovery, found that at least 37 London-based children are moved more than 250 miles away. Around 600 others are being sent more than 50 miles away.

John Pearce, from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said the findings highlighted “a pressing and longstanding national issue that we continue to raise with the government – a lack of local placements for the children in our care”.

“Local authorities are working hard to overcome the sufficiency challenges they face…but we need the support of the government to address the significant challenges we all face as well as rising costs and profiteering on the backs of vulnerable children.”

Clare Bracey, director of policy and campaigns at Become said: “This is a national scandal and is getting worse,” she said. 

“There are sometimes reasons why these moves are necessary for the child, but the reality is that for many children these moves are happening because there just are not enough suitable places for them to stay close to home. They are being let down.”

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carlette Isaac

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