News 2021: 10 items (Looked after children)

13/09/2021: Children’s homes ‘struggling to recruit staff’

Children’s homes are struggling to recruit staff, with people reluctant to work in the sector and qualified staff being poached by other establishments, the Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA) has warned. A report based on feedback from the sector for the week ending 12 September found that all respondents reported issues recruiting staff.

09/09/2021: ‘Dreadful day for children in care’ – campaigners react to supported accommodation changes

The introduction of legislation that bans the use of unregulated supported accommodation for all under-16s will create a two-tier care system that discriminates against older children, according to campaigners. Following a Department for Education consultation, unregulated placements which do not provide care for children aged under 16 have been banned from today (9 September).

08/09/2021: Foster care matching needs resource boost to tackle “crisis” decision-making, research finds

Increased resource would reduce “rushed” matches and allow improved information sharing and consideration of children’s identities and needs, What Works for Children’s Social Care recommends. Foster care matching needs more resource to tackle the “crisis atmosphere” of many placement decisions, research has recommended.

03/09/2021: Youth charity receives £1.6m boost to support unemployed care leaver

A youth charity in the west of England has received a £1.6m grant to help care leavers access work, training and education. Charity 1625 Independent People (1625IP) has been awarded funding by Youth Futures Foundation and the West of England Combined Authority to extend its Reboot West programme until March 2025.

03/09/2021: Judge: bespoke placements for children will be ‘considerably harder’ following unregulated provision ban

Judge authorises unregulated placement for 15-year-old girl but will reconsider following upcoming law change banning use for under-16s. The forthcoming ban on placing children in care aged under 16 in unregulated accommodation will make it ‘considerably harder’ to find bespoke placements for young people with urgent needs.

02/09/2021: Call to extend unregulated settings ban ahead of introduction for under-16s

Social work and charity leaders have reiterated calls for an outright ban on the use of unregulated supported accommodation for all children a week before such settings are banned for those under 16. Following a Department for Education consultation, unregulated placements which do not provide care for children aged under 16 will be banned from 9 September with a set of national standards due to be put in place for those housing young people aged 16 and 17.

31/08/2021: ‘Why recognising foster carers as workers would provide more stability for children and reduce costs’

A 20-year legal precedent leaves foster carers without employment rights and disrupts children’s care. It’s time for this to change, says Jane Collins. The astronomical cost of children’s social care is back in the spotlight. It is a key area of focus for the children’s social care review, as set out in its ‘case for change’ report. Ahead of its publication in June, the man leading the review, Josh MacAlister, urged residential care providers to cut their “indefensible” fees and profit levels.

18/08/2021: Children’s rights charity granted judicial review of ‘discriminatory’ unregulated placements legislation

The High Court has granted a judicial review of incoming legal changes that will ban the use of unregulated placements for children in care aged under 16. Children’s rights charity Article 39, which has brought the legal challenge, is one of a number of organisations to have argued that the controversial move leaves 16- and 17-year-olds, who account for most unregulated placements, exposed to harm.

13/08/2021: High Court ruling over boy detained in hospital highlights ‘acute lack’ of care placements

The detention of a 12-year-old boy with “complex medical and behavioural issues” at a hospital in Wigan highlights “an acute lack of appropriate resources for vulnerable children”, a High Court judge has said. The child, known as Y, was physically and chemically restrained in hospital last month and, at points, was handcuffed and guarded by as many as 13 police officers, the court heard.

05/08/2021: Sector split on unregulated placements overhaul as under-16s ban looms

Next month, councils will be banned from placing children in care aged under 16 in unregulated placements, the first stage of a planned reform of such ‘independent’ and ‘semi-independent’ accommodation. Stage two concerns the vast majority of such placements, for those aged 16 and 17, for which the government has proposed national standards, backed up by regulation by Ofsted, but on a more minimal basis than for children’s homes.

02/08/2021: Children’s home providers dismiss DCS calls to ‘dismantle’ private residential care market

Dismantling or radically changing the existing independent residential care sector will do little to improve the quality or cost of provision, children’s home providers have warned.

29/07/2021: Government signals shift towards national adoption services under latest strategy

Plan proposes boost to national adoption leadership body and development of national standards, and moots England-wide matching service and commissioning of adoption support

28/07/2021: Dire poverty in north-east England ‘driving many more children into care’

The 12 directors of children’s services in the north-east of England have warned that “shameful” levels of poverty in the region are driving dramatic rises in child protection intervention and the number of children in care. The north-east has the highest rate of referrals to children’s social care in the UK, significantly higher than the national average, according to a joint report by the directors of children’s services in the region.

Read: Guardian

26/07/2021: National Adoption Strategy: £48m to improve services in England

A new £48m National Adoption Strategy seeks to improve adoption services and help place more children with families as it launches in England. Thousands of families will benefit from better support when adopting children – ending a postcode lottery that many face, the government said. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “There is no substitute for a loving, permanent family.”

Read: BBC

26/07/2021: Proportion of privately run children’s homes up by 12 per cent, Ofsted figures show

The number of children’s homes run by private companies increased by 12 per cent in the year to March 2021, new analysis by Ofsted shows. Between April 2020 and March this year, the figure increased from 1,869 homes to 2,096. In the same time period, the number of homes run by voluntary sector providers declined by 12 per cent from 160 to 141 homes.