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Social Services: Coastal Areas

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department has taken on the Communities and Local Government Committee’s recommendation in its Second Report of Session 2006-07, on coastal towns, HC 351, that the Government need to take action to reduce the number of out-of-area placements and to ensure that when children are placed out of their local area there is improved communication between authorities. (244282)

I have been asked to reply.

The Committee’s report on coastal towns raised the important issue of the difficulties that can arise when looked-after children are placed away from their home area. We are determined that every looked-after child must be provided with the appropriate support by the local authorities responsible for their care.

The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 recently received Royal Assent and section 8 sets out the considerations that local authorities must have regard to when they are considering making a placement for a looked-after child. This includes giving first consideration as far as is reasonably practicable to a placement being near a child’s home and within the local authority’s area. We will be issuing regulations and statutory guidance on section 8 which will provide more detail about the responsibilities of placing authorities. This will include that where children have to be placed at a distance from their home areas, the placement is the most suitable to meet their needs; and that relevant information about the child is shared with the local authority in the area where the child has been placed. Furthermore, section 16 of the Act reaffirms local authority responsibilities to ensure visits to looked-after children including those placed out of authority and a long way from their homes.