Child placement upheaval as councils override care plans to bolster ratings

Children placed in residential homes outside of their own local
authority are being returned because councils are worried about
having their star ratings downgraded.

Care plans for children, some of whom have been in many placements,
are being ignored as councils struggle to meet performance
indicators that measure the number of children they place outside
of their area and to keep within budgets.

A delegate at the first annual conference of the National
Children’s Homes Association said he had been told children were
going to be moved “because one more child out of the authority
would mean we’ll lose a star”.

The delegate, who did not want to be named, said his organisation
based in north west England had looked after a teenage girl, who
had been in 42 placements. She had been moved against her wishes
and with no regard to her care plan and went on to self-harm.

He said: “The stuff about star ratings may be a thinly disguised
excuse about resources. It costs councils a lot more money to make
placements in another area. But we must stand up to elected members
and say the decisions they are making are not in the child’s best

David Behan, chief inspector of the Commission for Social Care
Inspection, told the conference in Stoke last week that he was
aware some councils were making “perverse” decisions because they
were chasing stars.

“The stakes around star ratings are high. People have lost their
jobs on the back of star ratings. It is true that one or two
children could affect the rating but if it does it probably means
that star is held in a fragile way,” he said.

While the star ratings system was not “completely dysfunctional”
elements of it drove people to behave perversely, he added.

Changes including the introduction of a series of performance
indicators, were currently being considered by the

The National Children’s Homes Association is a recent merger of the
National Association of Independent Resources for Children and the
Association of Independent Child Care Providers.

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