Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Little time given before care moves

A report has found more than half of children in care are given under a week's notice before being moved to a new place to live

More than half of children in care are given less than a week's notice before being moved to live in a different placement, according to a report.

The annual Children's Care Monitor found that 55% were given seven days or fewer to prepare, including 23% who said they learnt of their new placement only on the day of the move.

The children's rights director for England, Roger Morgan, said moving home was one of the major sources of disruption in children's lives, and it was "worrying" that they were given little or no notice of a move and little choice in their new placement.

He also raised concerns about the separation of siblings in care after the 2011 Monitor survey found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of those questioned said they had been put in different homes or foster placements from brothers and sisters who were also in care.

The survey provides information to the Government and regulator Ofsted each year on the experiences of children in care and boarding schools. The 2011 survey gathered the views of 1,870 children through an online questionnaire.

It found that the average number of times participants had moved placement while in care had increased from four to five since last year. Well over half of them (57%) said they had no choice of placement the last time they moved.

The report also found that 29% of care-leavers taking part in the survey were not in education, employment or training. The percentage of those leaving care who had work or training has fallen from 17% in 2009 to just 12% now.

But Mr Morgan welcomed findings that 89% of children who took part in the survey said that the care they received was good or very good.

Mr Morgan said: "The Children's Care Monitor looks at things that are important to the lives of children in care. What is good to see is that 89% of children in care in the 2011 Monitor survey rated their overall care as good or very good."

The national director for learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, voiced concern at the report's finding that many young people were leaving care without a job, training place or course of study to go to. Mr Coffey said: "Twenty-nine per cent of the care leavers taking part in this survey were not in education, employment or training. It is worrying that the percentage of care leavers in work or training has been steadily falling from 17% in 2009, to 15% in 2010 and down again to 12% in 2011."

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