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62% of care children have been moved away from their hometown in the last decade

New government research highlighted a significant rise in the number of children being moved more than 20 miles from their local area often alone and without warning.

Yesterday the Department for Education released new data that found children in care are being moved away from their hometown despite promises from the government to reform children’s social care.

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Become, a national charity for children in care and care leavers, has said the statistics within the new report are moving in the wrong direction and with a 23% rise of children coming into care since 2013, urgent action is needed to turn this around.

From March 2023, the Department found:

  • Across England, 17,630 children in care had been moved more than 20 miles away from home. That’s over 21% of all children in care
  • There has been a 62% increase in the numbers of children in care in England moved more than 20 miles away compared to 2013. In the same period, the overall number of children in care increased by 23%
  • In some areas, moving children more than 20 miles away has become commonplace: in 19 local authorities in England, more than a third of children were living more than 20 miles away

‘All children need love and stability to thrive. But just imagine being moved far away from your local area, often without warning, to an area you don’t know, far away from everything that matters to you,’ Katherine Sacks-Jones, chief executive of Become said. ‘Being moved can be incredibly disruptive to children’s education and relationships – including with brothers and sisters who might live miles away. Young people tell us how lonely and isolated it makes them feel and the real impact it can have on their mental health.’

Katherine added: ‘A decade of data paints a worrying picture of this happening more and more often – it’s unacceptable that children are being moved away, not because it’s the right decision for them, but because there are no suitable options closer.

‘Government must take urgent action to stop these numbers from continuing to get worse. We need a national commitment and strategy to keep children close to the people and places that matter to them.’

Image: Markus Spiske

More on this topic:

Biggest independent children’s care providers make £300m profit – report

Review launched into laws on social care for disabled children

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