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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