Today the government have declared that the number of looked after children that have been placed, out of area, need to be reduced.
They have said this is necessary due to children not remaining in viable contact with their families, friends and knowing the locality.
Having worked for some years, in agencies connected to looked after children I do not believe this is the case. I am not a social worker and have never worked for a local authority, except when they have ‘bought in’ my services pertinent to one family, on a contract basis.
Children are sometimes moved ‘out of area’, however as I have always understood it, this decision is not made without significant consideration, by the ‘placing authority’. (The county where the children live)
Children are moved, generally because they would be in danger, if they were to stay in the same locality.
I realise it is very expensive. I know that being a long way away from their home town means that family visits are more costly and often less frequent, if allowed at all. I know that people within the authorities recognise that it is pertinent to the children’s lives they have as few ‘moves’ as possible.
In this day and age there are few children that are in care because society or families stigmatise, due to children being born out of wedlock, as was the case prior to the 1980’s. Generally children are looked after because their families are unable to, for what ever reason. The reason is not always abuse. Often it is.
What cost do we put on keeping children safe? During the slashes in local authority spending, I believe that they will not move children, ‘just because they can’, away from an area the children know. There is a reason, there always has been a reason. I find it more difficult to understand when a child is ‘looked after’ just literally minutes from the home they had known, previously. I think that would make it more difficult for a child to see their birth family on a day by day basis.
When the news continues and more information becomes available I may change my mind. So far, I am not convinced.