Increasing numbers of children are coming into care
The last five years has seen a 20% increase in the number of children in residential care. In 2016, there were 7,600 children in either a children's home or another form of residential facility specifically, for looked after children.
Difficulty recruiting, and retaining, staff with the appropriate skills and training
Children’s homes often compete with similar low paid, entry level work and due to the intense nature of work, staff turnover is often high. Staff usually have few qualifications or relevant experience. Only 10% of children’s home staff are graduates.
The educational outcomes for Children in Care (CIC) are poor
In 2015, 4% of children who live in children’s homes gained 5 or more A*- C GCSEs, compared to 16% all CIC and 58% of their peers. Pre-care experiences and a care system which deprioritises education are contributing factors to low academic attainment, directly impacting the social outcomes for children.
There is a high cost to not supporting looked after children
The low outcomes for CIC causes a preventable strain on public services which are needed to support them, particularly later in life after many of these individuals have ‘fallen through the gaps’.
Children in care have complex needs which are often not met
Children placed in residential care typically arrive as teenagers after five or six foster care placements which exacerbate early childhood trauma and attachment disorders. 72% of children in residential settings have a diagnosable mental health condition and 38% have special educational needs.
Children’s homes are expensive to run
On average, local authorities pay up to £250,000 per child per year. Outcomes delivered for these high costs do not represent value for money nor do they reduce the level of need for the child in the future.
Placements in children’s homes are short
The average length of stay in a children’s home is four months. This can be due to a breakdown in placements or relationships, changes to personal circumstances.