Dispatches: Profiting From Kids in Care


    Channel 4

    25 November

    Star Rating: 3/5

    I recalled a case of a boy placed in a private children’s home
    where an independent inspector – contracted by the placing
    authority – arrived to review the care being offered as no social
    worker had time to do so, and found that the boy’s day consisted of
    smoking dope and, er, that’s it, writes Graham Hopkins.

    A government inspector was also a mite concerned about the home,
    not least as he had been shot at by an air rifle. The placement was
    costing £1,500 a week. And that was nearly 10 years ago. The
    average today, apparently, is £2,500. There is, indeed, as one
    entrepreneur featured in this programme suggested, “a tremendous
    amount of money to be made at this game”.

    However, the revelations of this undercover investigation (huge
    fees, poor care, untrained, unchecked and unskilled staff), which,
    while still shocking, were worryingly unsurprising.

    In social care we are used to finding the good being upstaged by
    documentaries about the bad, the ugly and the unscrupulous.

    While not showing examples of good care, the undercover reporter
    did show tapes of appalling practice to a child care expert and
    then asked redundant questions such as “so what kind of example are
    they setting me?” (a bad one). And “should I have been left in that
    situation?” (no).

    Dispatches was absolutely justified in exposing these
    charlatans. But, that said, it did seem to tarnish the whole
    private sector with the same blunt brush of sharp practice, and
    appeared to let the local authorities (who paid for all this
    “care”) and inspectors (who regulate such care) off the hook.

    Indeed, one local authority exposed in two of the four
    investigations said it was “very concerned by the issues raised and
    has already taken action to address them”. So that’s all right,


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