In England between 18 December 2022 and 3 January 2023, at least 2,139 children were moved or came into care.
We know through our work with care-experienced children and young people that Christmas can be a particularly isolating and lonely time. Our ‘Settled at Christmas’ research explores how many children and young people in care are moved over the Christmas period, as such instability is likely to compound the loneliness and isolation many already feel.
Our research found that in England between 18 December 2022 and 3 January 2023:
Over 2,139 children were moved or came into care over the Christmas period (on average 134 children a day)
At least 349 children were moved more than 20 miles over Christmas (on average 22 children a day)
On average, 28% of children who changed placements were moved more than 20 miles away
Data provided by some local authorities shows that some children in their area were moved more than once during this period
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…
Instability is an issue all year round that’s sadly getting worse: during 2022-2023 there were a total of 57,690 ‘placement changes’ in England, up from 54,620 the year before.
But moves over Christmas can be particularly difficult. While families across the country will be enjoying time together, young people in care are being uprooted and moved, and facing increasing uncertainty. Feelings of loneliness and anxiety are intensified as support services slow or stop, and schools shut for the holidays – making communicating with the professionals looking after you and finding friends to connect with so much more difficult.
We looked at these figures in our Home for Christmas report last year. It’s disappointing that overall there has been such little improvement. Our ‘Settled at Christmas’ report should be a wake-up call for the Government to address the instability children in the care system are facing as a matter of urgency.
As a first step, the government must commit to reducing 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 that meets all their needs.