The Department for Children, Schools and Families has announced that the government aims to instruct councils to find sufficient placements for looked-after children in their area, meeting campaigners’ demands.
The Fostering Network, which has campaigned for the move alongside other charities, said it should help tackle foster carer shortages and help placement stability, by making it more likely children will be placed appropriately in the first place.
The government has tabled an amendment to the Children and Young Persons Bill that would place a duty on councils to “take steps to secure sufficient accommodation that is appropriate for the needs of children they look after within their area”, including through a diversity of providers.
This will not preclude out-of-area placements for those children who would not be served by a placement within their local area.
The government had originally proposed the change in last year’s Care Matters white paper on reforming looked-after children’s services. But it was not included in the original bill, with the government claiming that a clause placing a ban on councils making unnecessary out-of-area placements would have the same effect.
But campaigners argued that this was not clear enough, a point which the DCSF has now accepted.
The amendment will be discussed next week as the bill reaches its penultimate stage in the House of Lords before passage to the Commons.
Children and Young Persons Bill