New research from national charity Become reveals ‘deeply unsettling’ 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 have the love, support and stability they need to thrive’.
- Over 2,139 children were moved or came into care between 18 Dec 2022 and 3 Jan 2023 (on average 134 children a day)
- At least 898 children in England came into the care system over the Christmas period (on average 58 children a day)
- On average, more than one in four (28%) of children who changed placements were moved more than 20 miles away[i]
- Some children were moved more than once during the Christmas period.
Become, the leading national charity for children in care and young care leavers is sounding the alarm today on the numbers of children and young people being moved at Christmas.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were sent by the charity to local authorities in England, to ask how many children in care moved placements or came into care between 18 December 2022 and 3 January 2023, and how far away they were moved.
The ‘Settled at Christmas’ research shows that more than 2000 children were moved over the Christmas period last year – this number should serve as a wakeup call to Government and the charity is demanding urgent action.
The charity carried out an FOI last year, which asked for the number of children moving placements and reported similar numbers – with some local authorities doing better but some having got worse over the last year. It’s disappointing that overall there has been such little improvement for children in care at Christmas.
Whilst instability is an issue all year round and getting worse – during 2022-2023 there were a total of 57,690 ‘placement changes’ in England, up from 54,620 the year before – such moves over the Christmas period can be particularly difficult and increase feelings of anxiety and isolation in care experienced children.
One young person Become supports said: “In some ways I am looking forward to being free from home and feeling safe, but by the time Christmas arrives I will have moved into my fourth home within the space of eight months…”
These moves can be abrupt, and not the child’s choice, exacerbating feelings of being unsettled and uprooted. It can also lead to difficulty in forming relationships, for the children to feel safe, secure and connected to the people around them. It increases feelings that they have little agency over their lives and their futures.
Katharine Sacks-Jones, CEO of Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, says: “Being moved at any time can create huge instability and insecurity for children in the care system, who often go through this alone and are moved without warning. It can make children feel as though they have no agency over their lives, that their relationships and connections can be uprooted at any time.
But to be moved at Christmas, as friends enjoy family meals, gifts and the usual festive cheer is even more heartbreaking. It can make the difficulty and isolation of the season even more severe.
Our ‘Settled at Christmas’ report should be a wakeup call for Government to address the instability children in the care system are facing as a matter of urgency. As a first step, government must make a commitment to reduce the number of moves children in the care system experience, so that children are moved to homes that are suitable for them to begin with, in an appropriate location, which meet all their needs.”
Notes to editors:
For more information, contact the Become press office on 07951 155246 or email [email protected]
- We’re proud to be the i Newspaper’s Christmas Appeal Charity 2023, helping care-experienced children and young people get the support they need https://becomecharity.org.uk/support-our-work/i-appeal/
- Please sign post to Becomes Care Advice Support 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 ‘Settled at Christmas’ briefing with full table of Freedom of Information (FOI) data can be found here Settled at Christmas
- FOI requests were sent to all 152 upper tier local authorities in England, with a 96% response rate
- At least 1241 children who were already in care moved homes (on average 78 children a day)
- The numbers of total children moved during Christmas ranged from 0 in one local authority to 76 in another.
- 17 local authorities saw more than two children moved a day on average over this period
- 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
- In 2022/23, 10 % of all children in the care system were moved three or more times (8, 640 children in total), with almost a third of all children in care (31%) moved two or more times.
Become is the national charity for care-experienced children and young people. We put young people at the heart of everything we do, supporting them to get the help they need now and empowering them to bring about change in their own lives, in the care system and society.
[i] These are the Local Authorities who have a combined number of 32 or more children being moved (which would average 2 a day over the Christmas period)