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Care Services: Children

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 26 June 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Adonis on 20 March (WA 55–6), for each local authority, how many of the looked-after children during the past six years had more than five or 10 placement moves; and whether they will define the term “short-term placement”.[HL4099]

Information on the number of looked-after children during the past six years who had more than five or 10 placement moves, has been placed in the House of Lords Library.

Improving placement stability for looked-after children is a high priority for the Government, as reflected in their public service agreement targets and the national indicator set for local government. The Care Matters White Paper and the Children and Young Person's Bill include a range of measures which will help to improve placement stability, including revised arrangements for care planning, strengthening the role of independent reviewing officers to ensure placement moves are given greater scrutiny, and ensuring children are placed closer to their homes and schools.

Short-term placements refer to children who are looked after under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, who are subject to an agreement between children's services and the child's parents or guardians, whereby the children normally live at home but are accommodated by a local authority in a pattern of short periods of care in order to give their parents (or guardians) some “respite” from the normal duties of looking after a child. A typical example would be a physically disabled child, who normally lives at home with his/her parents, but who is accommodated by a local authority every weekend. While these children are legally “looked after” during the course of their short breaks, their situation differs significantly from that of other looked after children. Consequently, these children are generally excluded from our published data.