Under embargo until 00.01am Tuesday 25 April 2023
#GoneTooFar: charity calls for end to “unacceptable” number of children in care being moved miles away from their communities
New research from Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, shows the shocking number of children in care being moved away from everything they know and love.
The charity’s new campaign, #GoneTooFar, launched today, reveals how children are being moved to places they don’t know, often without warning, far away from family, friends, school, and community – and the harmful, devastating, impact these moves can have on the lives and life chances of children in care.
Become’s new research shows:
- The average child in care in England is placed more than 18 miles from home – this is equivalent to the distance between Birmingham and Coventry
- Some children are moved more than 500 miles from home
- Children who experience multiple care placements were more likely to be placed more than 20 miles from home. Children who have just had one placement are placed on average 15.8 miles away from home, while children who have had three or more placements are placed on average 22.4 miles away from home
- Children who are moved more than 20 miles from home are more likely to have lower wellbeing and experience emotional difficulties than children who are placed closer to home.
For some children it’s right for them to be moved away to a different area, to keep them safe, to protect them from exploitation, or to move them closer to other family members. But more and more children are being moved far away when it is not in their best interests simply because of a lack of suitable places in their local area, compounding the trauma they’ve already experienced.
Become is calling on the government and local authorities to commit to stop children being placed miles from home, to publish strategies to increase the supply of appropriate local options, and to recognise and register the number of times children are moved inappropriately.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, CEO of Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, says:
“We hear time and again from the young people we work with that they’ve been made to move – often without warning – to an area they don’t know, far away from everything that matters to them.
Being moved can disrupt a child’s education, life outcomes, and relationships – including with brothers and sisters who might live miles away. Poor transport links can make it difficult or even impossible for a young person to get to school or college, see their friends or stay connected to their community. Young people tell us how lonely, isolated, and stigmatised it makes them feel.
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. It cannot continue.
There are 82,000 children in care, more than ever before, with numbers continuing to rise. Without urgent action this problem will continue to get worse. We need a national commitment and strategy to keep children close to the people and places that matter to them. All children in care deserve the love and stability they need to heal and thrive.”
Notes to editors:
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent to 151 local authorities and to the Department of Education (DfE) between October 2022 and February 2023 relating to children in care in England.
We received responses from 138 local authorities (91% of all local authorities). However, many local authorities were unable to provide full responses to the information request, and some were not able to provide any information.
Published by the Department for Education, in the public domain and analysed by Become :
- In 2022, 64.7% of all children placed in private provision were placed outside of their local authority area, compared to 29.9% of children not in private provision.14 In 2022, almost all (92%) of children living in private secure units, children’s homes or semi-independent settings were placed out of area
- In 2022, 33% of children living in secure units, children’s homes or semi-independent settings were placed more than 20 miles from home
- In 2022, at least 21% of all children in care were placed more than 20 miles from home (more than a fifth of all children in care) – up from 16% in 2012
- In 2022, over 800 children under the care of local authorities in England were moved to Scotland or Wales.
Interviews with CEO of Become, Katharine Sacks-Jones, are available along with a young person, whose experiences of being moved away from everything that matters to them shines a light on this shocking and hidden issue. Please contact the Become press office on 07951 155246 or email [email protected]
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.
The new #GoneTooFar campaign, which the charity worked with care-experienced young people to develop, seeks to keep children in care close to the people and places they know and love. The embargoed report and appendix are available upon request.
For more information, visit www.becomecharity.org.uk/gone-too-far