Research

Increasing numbers of children are coming into care

The last five years has seen a 20% increase in the number of children in residential care (Department for Education, July 2017).

In 2016, there were 7,600 children in either a children’s home or another form of residential facility specifically, for looked after children.

Difficulty recruiting, and retaining staff with the appropriate skills and training

Children’s homes often compete with other similar low-paid, entry level work, despite the skilled nature of caring for highly vulnerable and often traumatised young people. Due to the intense nature of the work, staff turnover is often high. Staff usually have few qualifications or relevant experience. Only 10% of children’s home staff are graduates (Sir Martin Narey’s independent review of children’s residential care, July 2016).

The educational outcomes for children in care (CIC) are poor

In 2015, 4% of children who live in children’s homes gained 5 or more good GCSEs, compared to 16% of all CIC and 58% of their peers (Department of Education, Statistics for Children looked after in England including adoption: 2015 to 2016).

Pre-care experiences, a culture of low expectations, stigmatising, and deficit-focused views of children in care are contributing factors to low academic attainment, directly impacting their social outcomes.

There is a high human, social and financial cost to not supporting looked after children

The poor outcomes for children in care harms their life chances, and causes a preventable strain on public services which are needed to support them, particularly later in life after many of these individuals have ‘fallen through the gaps’.

In 2015, 4% of children who live in children’s homes gained 5 or more good GCSEs, compared to 16% of all CIC and 58% of their peers.

Children in care have complex needs which are often not met

Children placed in residential care typically arrive as teenagers after five or six foster care placements, which exacerbate early childhood trauma and attachment disorders.

72% of children in residential settings have a diagnosable mental health condition, and 38% have special educational needs (Children’s Society, November 2015).

Placements in children's homes are short

The average length of stay in a children’s home is four months. This can be due to a breakdown in placements or relationships, or changes to personal circumstances.

Children's homes are expensive to run

On average, local authorities pay up to £250,000 per child per year (Department for Education, Children’s services: spending and delivery, July 2016). Outcomes delivered for these high costs do not represent value for money nor do they reduce the level of need for the child in the future.

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