Local authority homes in decline

The number of children’s homes in England has fallen by 7 per
cent since 1997, according to new government figures. This includes
a 14 per cent drop in local authority maintained homes.

The statistics published last week show that there were only 672
local authority maintained homes in March 2000, compared with 783
in 1997.

Meanwhile, the number of privately registered children’s homes
leapt by 16 per cent, from 221 in 1997 to 256 in March 2000.

Chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social Services
children and families committee Rob Hutchinson attributed the fall
in children placed in residential care to increased placements in
fostering and adoption – now standing at 82 per cent – as well as
preventive work and demographic changes. Hutchinson said there had
been a 5 per cent increase in the number of looked-after children
in the past year and a consequent slight increase in the use of
residential care.

Hutchinson added that an increase in the number of private
sector placements could reflect a rise in the use of specific
placements, such as those with educational facilities.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Scottish executive last week
revealed a 1 per cent increase in the number of looked-after
children in local authority care in Scotland, from 11,200 in March
1999 to just over 11,300 in March 2000.

Children Looked After by Local Authorities During the Year
Ending 31 March 2000 -England
, at www.doh.gov.uk/public/stats

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