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New rules introduced to stop out-of-area residential care

Regulations to come into force at the end of January

New rules intended to make residential care safer and putting an end to unnecessary out-of-area placements for vulnerable children will come into force this month.

The changes have been announced in the government's response to the consultation on residential care reform and will result in much stricter scrutiny of councils' decisions about where children are placed.

Announcing the changes, the minister, Edward Timpson, said:

"It's totally unacceptable for local authorities to routinely place children miles away from their homes for no good reason. Far too often an 'out of sight, out of mind' culture prevails, and I'm determined to tackle it.

"In future, only senior council officials in charge of children's services will be able to place children out of area and only when they judge it to be the right decision for a child to be moved away from their home area. There will be one individual in each local authority who is directly accountable for these decisions.

"I'm also removing the secrecy around residential care by putting more information in the public domain than ever before on the location and quality of homes and working with Ofsted to improve inspection. There is still more work to be done, and I expect councils and care homes to rise to the challenge."

The change to the regulations will come into force at the end of January. The government is also:

New guidance will shortly be issued to help providers of new homes and managers of existing ones to carry out assessments on the suitability of their home's location. Revised statutory guidance will also be issued to local authorities on their responsibilities around children missing from care.

The response to the consultation is here.