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5,500 children in care who could be with their families: CFAB

There are 5,500 children who are currently in care that could be with their families if local authorities explored the possibility of placing them with families abroad. The figure is revealed in research published by Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB).

In August 2021, CFAB sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to 211 UK local authorities to gather data on the number of Looked After Children (LAC) who had family members abroad explored as potential carers. The resulting report highlights the concern of CFAB that many LAC are being denied their right to family and the need for greater monitoring and guidance to ensure that support for overseas placements is on par with what a child would receive in the UK. 

The data uncovered by CFAB revealed both the low rates of international placements and data recording.

Overall, the charity is encouraged to see that more children in care are having potential family carers abroad explored. However, it is worrying that the number of local authorities exploring family abroad has dropped. It seems that those local authorities considering overseas care are doing so more regularly. Although the number of children who were actually placed with family abroad was lower than the previous FOI request in 2019, by 7 per cent. The pandemic is likely to account for this. 

Whilst there are some positive improvements from individual local authorities, the overall picture still shows a significant need for more exploration of family abroad as potential carers for LAC, with current placement numbers shocking low. In 2019?there?were over 104,000 LAC, with 42 of these children being placed in international placements,?representing only?.04 per cent. CFAB estimates that there are at least 18,500 children in care with family members abroad in England and Wales.  If this is the best option for them, using a conservative placement rate of 30 per cent, there are 5,500 children that are currently in care that could be with their families.

For more information, click here. For the report, click here. For a response from the Association of Directors of Children's Services, click here.