Kent County Council has called on councils to do more to ensure that children in care are placed as close to home as possible to minimise disruption to their lives.
According to the Council, there are currently 1,267 children in care that have been placed in Kent by other local authorities.
The leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter, said: "Being taken into care is probably the most traumatic thing that can happen to a child. Children in care deserve a better deal and all councils must work much harder to provide placements that enable them to remain in their schools and with their friends, unless there is a threat to their safety. This will minimise disruption in their lives and protect the wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable children."
He went on to say that: "There are very good reasons why authorities place some children far away from home – with prospective adopters, with relatives, in specialist residential provision, catering for acute need or disability, that is not available closer. However, there are far too many vulnerable children and young people placed in children's homes and with non-related foster carers miles away from home. It is extremely difficult to be an effective ‘corporate parent’ and look after children placed so far away from home.”
The Council has called on the Government to legislate to:
- require local authorities to place children within 15 miles of their home or school, unless by exception,
- ensure all local authorities report annually on how many children have been placed more than 15 miles away or in another local authority area, and
- require London councils to work together to commission care placements in London to enable children to stay close to home, and reduce pressure placed on Kent's public services by supporting children from other council areas.