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Drop in children's home places for vulnerable kids in Hampshire

Drop in children's home places for vulnerable kids in Hampshire

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 12:00am 17th July 2019.

Spaces for vulnerable children were cut at Hampshire's children's homes last year, figures show – despite more provision across the rest of the country.

Ofsted's latest data showed there were 47 such sites in Hampshire on 31 March, with room for 251 young people – down almost six per cent from a year earlier when there were 267 places.

Meanwhile, Surrey saw one of the biggest rises in England as places jumped from 139 last year to 176 in 2019.

Although there was a rising number of children's homes nationwide, new Ofsted statistics show at-risk minors were often sent to sites far away from their friends and family because of a lack of local availability.

The education watchdog says there is "simply not enough specialist support" to meet demand, with facilities spread unevenly across the country.

Children's homes look after people aged under 18 to prepare them for independent living. This includes children in the care of a local authority, as well as those with disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health issues.

Across England, Ofsted recorded 2,304 children's homes active in March, with 12,035 places.

Nearly a quarter of these homes were in the North West, where children have to travel 21 miles on average to reach them.

David Derbyshire, director of safeguarding at the charity Action for Children, said:

"We know from our frontline services that for children in care, moving home is not just about leaving a house – it means the emotional turmoil of leaving a family, friends, school and everything that's familiar to start all over again.

"Although sometimes children may need to move away from foster homes when relationships between a carer and child break down, we're faced with a chronic shortage of foster carers in the country which is causing untold harm to this vulnerable group of children."

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for children’s social care, said the statistics "only tell part of the story", adding:

"There is simply not enough specialist support in the right places to meet demand.

"Vulnerable children should live closer to their family and friends, where it is safe for them to do so."

Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said:

"It's encouraging to see progress being made, with more councils judged good or outstanding, meaning more children are being kept safe from harm.

"The vast majority of children's homes – which play a vital role in caring for some of the most vulnerable children in the country – are also getting these top ratings.

"I want to keep this progress going, which is why we have given local authorities an extra £410 million for adult and children's social care and are investing in a £200 million innovation programme, which is backing the sector to put new and even more effective measures in place to help vulnerable families."

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