Councils will be forced to cut the number of children they place in out-of-authority care when new legislation comes into force in 2010, Community Care LIVE Children and Families heard yesterday.
Under the Children in Care Bill, which will be introduced into parliament in November, local authorities will be expected to restrict their use of “inappropriate” placements, Department for Children, Schools and Families official Brendan Clark said.
But he added that government could find it difficult to define what was inappropriate because in some cases out-of-borough placements worked best.
The use of out-of-authority placements has generated controversy in recent years because of concerns too many children were being placed miles away from their home communities.
Other provisions in the bill, which follows on from the Care Matters white paper, include duties on local authorities to develop sufficient provision in their area and a diverse range of services provided by the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Commissioning of services had become a top priority for the department and three NVQs on the subject would be available from September 2008, Clark added. Social workers who were routinely commissioning as part of their job would be able to undertake an NVQ level 3, which is equivalent to an A-level, to enhance their skills.
Brendan Clark also said that the government was planning to carry out research into the under-use of voluntary adoption agencies by local authorities. VAAs are complaining that they are not being used by councils because their interagency fees – typically £19,000 – are too high.
Children in Care Bill