Children in residential homes say they are improving

The number of children in residential homes who rate their care as good or very good has jumped by 12% in the last year, according to a report from the Children’s Rights Director for England, Roger Morgan, published today.

The report, Children’s care monitor 2009, surveyed 1,195 children living in either children’s homes, residential special schools, boarding schools, in foster care, at home with social work support, in further education or leaving care.

Last year only 70% of those in children’s homes rated their care highly, compared with 95% of those in foster care. This year it has jumped to 82%.

However, increasing numbers of children placed in children’s homes also feel they should not be there with only 57% (compared to 63% last year) agreeing they were in the right placement. This compares with 90% of foster children. However, the reasons were usually that children wanted to be at home with their own families or did not get on with someone in the home, rather than feeling they should be in foster care.

Opinions make a difference

Just under half (48%) of children in care said their opinions usually or always made a difference to decisions about their lives. But although children in foster care and care leavers were the most likely to feel their opinions made a difference, they were also the least likely to be told about changes coming up in their lives

Out of 434 children with siblings also in care, just under a quarter (24%) had their brothers or sisters living with them in the same placement. Disabled children were the least likely to have siblings living with them.

Children in care favoured making complaints through social workers, rather than using a council complaints systems, or through parents or schools. However, they were more likely to turn to a friend, a teacher or the police if they felt unsafe.

The report found no progress in helping children feel safe. Only 76% of children reported they felt very safe where they lived, the same as last year. Knives were considered a bigger danger by young people this year, rising by 5% while the perceived danger from drugs, alcohol and kidnapping has dropped.

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