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New research from national charity Become reveals ‘shocking and upsetting’ number of children and young people in care moved at Christmas.
- Children in care charity Become sounds alarm bells and calls for ‘urgent and ambitious action to ensure children in care are able to thrive’
- Freedom of Information (FOI) requests found that 1257 children in care moved homes between 18 December 2021 and 3rd January 2022
- On average, 79 children a day were moved during the Christmas period.
- Children in care are uprooted over Christmas holidays, which can cause particular instability and harm
- Data provided by some local authorities shows that some children in their area were moved more than once during the Christmas period
Become, the leading national charity for children in care and young care leavers is today, 2nd January 2023, sounding the alarm on the numbers of children and young people being moved at Christmas.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent by the charity to all 151 local authorities in England. Responses have been received from 144, representing 96% of councils across the country, and show that 1257 children moved care placements between 18th December 2021 and 3rd January 2022. This number should serve as a wake-up call across government and a demand for action. The full briefing can be found here: www.becomecharity.org.uk/home-for-christmas
During 2021-2022 there were a total of 54,620 placement changes in England, an average of 150 per day, which underscores the ongoing instability and insecurity vulnerable young people face. But the movements over Christmas will undoubtedly increase feelings of anxiety and unrest in care-experienced children.
For many young people, Christmas represents a time of excitement and joy, presents and fun, but for children in care, it is yet another period of trauma and unknowns, and while families across the country will be enjoying time together, young people in care are being uprooted and moved, and facing increasing uncertainty. One young person Become supports told us:
“Christmas (…) often reminds me that I don’t have a ‘normal’ family (..) I am reminded of how different my experience of the world is from them”
These moves can be abrupt, and not the child’s choice, which only exacerbates feelings of being unsettled and uprooted. It can also lead to children being unable to form relationships, to feel safe and secure, and to remain connected to the people around them. It increases their feelings that they have little agency over their lives and their futures.
The statistics vary between local authorities, with some appearing to have a higher proportion of children moved at Christmas.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, CEO of Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, said:
‘These statistics are as shocking as they are upsetting. For children and young people in care, Christmas can already be a difficult and isolating time, without the family around them that many of us take for granted.’
‘But to move young people at Christmas, when their friends are enjoying presents, family meals and the usual festive joys, delivers yet more isolation and uncertainty. Care experienced children are being moved into unfamiliar surroundings, leaving behind relationships they have managed to build, and into an environment they do not know. Become is calling on the government to take urgent and ambitious action to ensure children and young people in care have greater stability and the same opportunities as other children to thrive.’
‘Of course, there are many reasons which mean that moves are necessary and can be of long-term benefit, but the reality is that for young people in care, uprooting them at this time of year can be especially destabilising and serve as another reminder to them of the volatility they live with every day.’
‘As a first step to addressing these concerns, we are calling on the government to announce a national commitment and target to reduce the number of moves children in the care system experience. The government must also provide the necessary additional funding to boost the number of children’s homes in areas that need them, and to invest in recruiting more foster carers, particularly for those children who are currently not well served by the system.’
‘Become stands ready to work with the government swiftly to enact the changes that will ensure that children and young people in the care system are offered the stability and security they need.’
In 2021/22, 10% of all children in the care system were moved three or more times (8, 030 children in total), while almost a third of all children in care (31%) were moved twice or more.
Notes to editors:
- Please signpost to Becomes Care Advice Line https://becomecharity.org.uk/get-support/care-advice-line/
- Information on support at Christmas for children and young people in care can be found here https://becomecharity.org.uk/get-support/support-at-christmas/
- Our ‘Home for ’ briefing with full table of Freedom of Information (FOI) data can be found here https://becomecharity.org.uk/home-for-christmas
- There is some variation amongst local authorities in terms of the % of children being moved at Christmas.
- The number of total children moved during Christmas ranged from 0 in one local authority to 54 in another.
- 21 local authorities gave a figure of ‘fewer than five’ as they stated that disclosing the number could lead to the identification of individuals. In those instances, we have counted that as one young person, although the actual number may be higher
- We asked about the number of children who were moved, but some local authorities reported a higher number of placement moves than children, meaning some children had been moved more than once in that two-week period.
- Some local authorities also noted that they had included temporary short-term placements
Become is the national charity for children in care and young care leavers. For 30 years, the charity has stood shoulder to shoulder with care-experienced young people, helping them get the support they need right now and changing the system for future generations.