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Risks facing children in care must be addressed: The Children’s Society

Commenting on new figures from the Department for Education which show the number of children in care in England at 31 March 2019 rose 3.6 per cent to 78,150 this year, Sam Royston, Director of Policy and Research at The Children's Society, said:

"More investment is urgently needed to ensure families get early support which could help avoid the need for children to go into care – but also to ensure that when this is necessary young people get the support they need to stay safe and thrive.

"Both have become more difficult amid the financial pressures facing councils, with the Local Government Association estimating that children's services departments face a £3bn funding shortfall by 2025.

"Without the right placement and support, children in care are more likely to be unhappy, go missing from home and be at risk of criminal and sexual exploitation.

"That is why we are really concerned by the continued rise in the number of children being placed outside their home area, as well as the huge increase in number of young people being placed in semi-independent unregulated placements (39 per cent) – which can be due to a lack of suitable local placements.

"Too often, children in these placements do not get the help they need and some are cynically targeted by dangerous adults.  Children placed far from home may be more likely to go missing, but shortcomings in information sharing involving police forces and councils in the different areas mean not all are offered Return Home Interviews which are a crucial opportunity to understand why they went missing and help prevent this happening again.

"It's vital the law is changed to ensure that semi-independent supported accommodation for children is regulated and inspected, and a national action plan is needed, backed by funding, to ensure all areas can offer local placements to all children for where this is appropriate."

For more information about the statistics for children looked after, click here.