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Childcare placements ‘indefensible’ – Gove

Education secretary Michael Gove has criticised the care system for “bewildering regulations” that result in many children being placed away from their birthplace, or in areas with high crime rates.

A DfE review of the care protection system in England found that there was a significant lack of transparency around care homes, including whether they passed basic standards and who was in charge of them.

The majority of care homes were placed in neighbourhoods with high crime rates, the review found, and councils were spending an average of £4,000 a week to place one child in a home.

Gove wrote in The Daily Telegraph: “[T]here was a lack of the most basic information about where these homes existed, who was responsible for them, and how good they were … The people with responsibility for overseeing the protection of children in any area – local safeguarding children boards – told us they did not even know when new homes opened locally, or where, and who were the children in them.

“There was one group of people, however, who did seem to possess all the information: the gangs intent on exploiting these vulnerable children. They knew where the homes were; they knew how to contact the children – at the fish and chip shop, the amusement arcade, in the local park; or just by hanging around outside the house.

“One figure stands out: almost half of children are placed in homes outside their local authority areas, and over a third are sent more than 20 miles from home. That is indefensible. So, too, is the fact that more than half of children's homes are in areas with above-average crime levels.”

David Simmonds, of the Local Government Association, told the Daily Telegraph: “The historic problem of the clustering of lots of children's homes in a small number of areas that may suffer from higher deprivation is something we agree needs to be addressed.”

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