New data released by the Department for Education (DfE) today shows a continued and significant rise in the numbers of children in care moved more than 20 miles from their local area and sent to live somewhere they don’t know, often alone and without warning.
Despite promises from the Government to reform children’s social care, Become Charity is highlighting that these statistics 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.
Government figures show that, as at 31 March 2023:
- 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.
- Children in the care of local authorities in the East of England, the South West, the South East and the East Midlands were most likely to have been placed more than 20 miles away.
- More information, including a full breakdown by region and local authority, is available in the note to editors and data tables appended to this release.
Become’s #GoneTooFar report, based on data from local authorities, shows the average child in care in England is placed more than 18 miles from their local area and the school, friends, family and networks that matter to them – equivalent to the distance from Birmingham to Coventry, with some children moved more than 500 miles away.
Today’s DfE figures reveal the situation is only getting worse, with more children than ever before being moved far away not because it‘s in their best interests – but because of a lack of suitable places locally.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive of Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, says:
“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.
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.
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.”
For more information or to make a media enquiry, please contact Become’s Communications Manager, Amy Grant, via 07951 155367 or [email protected]
NOTE TO EDITORS AND APPENDICES
Note to Editors
All statistics in the above press release are taken from the latest edition of the Department for Education’s annual statistical release ‘Children Looked After in England Including Adoptions’, which was published on 16/11/23 and can be found here.
All statistics in this document refer to children with CLA status in law who were in the care of local authorities in England and who were placed more than 20 miles away from their home on 31/03/2023.
Data tables, including national figures for every year since 2013 and local figures for every year since 2018, are provided in the appendices at the link below.
Statistics for years before 2023 are taken from previous releases of ‘Children Looked After in England Including Adoptions’, which are available here.