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Pinball kids: report highlights difficulties for children ‘bouncing around’ the care system

One in ten children in care experience two or more changes in placement

A new report launched by the Children's Commissioner for England reveals the difficulties faced by thousands of children each year 'bouncing around' the social care system.

The Stability Index is a new measure of stability for looked after children. It brings together data on care placements, schools and social workers, in order to understand for the first time the type and scale of instability experienced by these children.

The analysis reveals that over a 12-month period between 2015 and 2016:

The study also shows that one in ten children in the care system moved school in the middle of the academic year, a change which can be particularly disruptive to education and exams. Children in care are three times more likely to experience a mid-year school move than schoolchildren in general.

While placement changes do increase the likelihood of changing school, the research also found that in just over half of cases, children in care changed school during the academic year without a change in their placement – meaning that other factors are also playing a role.

Research has shown that all children need stability while they grow up, and that a lack of continuity in care and education is strongly linked with lower attainment. Instability in care can also exacerbate existing behavioral and emotional difficulties, making it more difficult for children to establish relationships going forward, which can contribute to further placement breakdown and a deeper sense of rejection.

For the report, click here.