Kent pushed to limits as ‘dumping ground’ for looked-after children

Kent Council is prepared to name and shame a dozen local
authorities in London and the South East which are continuing to
use the county as a “dumping ground” for looked-after children.

The threat came from Peter Gilroy, Kent social services director
and chairman of the area child protection committee. He has written
to children’s minister Margaret Hodge outlining his concerns for
the welfare of up to 1,500 children placed in Thanet by other

The situation is so acute that Kent has pledged to fund appeals
against councils which refuse planning permission for residential
care homes.

Gilroy said tragedy had already struck and feared it could be
repeated. In one case a premature baby placed in the county had
died without health or social services being informed the child was

He said: “Thanet is the 62nd most deprived authority in the UK but
it has 35 children’s homes. That’s like going to one of the poorest
London boroughs and dumping kids there.

“How can you place a vulnerable child who may have been abused into
a poor setting three hours away from London? It’s very difficult to
monitor a child that distance away.”

However, in an unpublished report on looked-after children in Kent
for the Greater London Association of Directors of Social Services
(Gladss), most social workers felt placement needs of children in
Kent “were fairly well met.” But access to education, counselling,
mental health services and resources for other special needs needed

Hannah Miller, Gladss co-ordinator for children’s issues, said some
London boroughs were struggling to cope with large rises in the
number of looked-after children, while Kent had 33 of the 120
national fostering services. “London boroughs are working hard to
reduce their reliance on Kent but it has to appreciate our problems
too,” she said.

The Department for Education and Skills said placement stability of
looked-after children should be improved by the £93m Choice
Protects grants over the next two years.

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