The research, Pass the Parcel, showed that 11,000 children in care are living more than 20 miles from their home postcode and that 2,000 children in care living over 100 miles away from family and friends. Worryingly, almost a thousand children are living over 150 miles away from the area they would call home. The report also identified a 13% rise in the number of children in care living ‘out of area’ over the last four years in places to which they have no connection and lack vital support networks.
Linda Briheim-Crookall, Head of Policy and Practice Development at Coram Voice said: “We are concerned about the numbers of children in care living ‘out of area’ as highlighted in today’s report and the impact that this has on their lives. Moving away from the area that you know means that many children lose touch with the people they are closest to, whether good friends or extended family, and it compounds the feeling of loss and isolation that can be associated with coming into care. Through the Bright Spots programme we know that having people they can trust is key to the wellbeing of children in care and sadly when the care system does not support children to develop and maintain important relationships it has a long term impact on their lives. Care leavers are twice as likely than young people in the general population to feel lonely often or always.
“In addition, young people living out of area are at risk from being cut off from the key support services they are entitled to. We recently found that over a fifth of local advocacy services are unable to support young people placed outside of their authority area, which can leave them without a say in decisions made about their care at the time they may need it most.
“Every child and young person in care has the right to feel safe and settled and to have their voices heard in decisions made about their lives. It is essential that all young people know how to, and are able to, access advocacy support whenever they need it, for any barriers they may face. We urge any young people experiencing issues in their placement to contact our free Always Heard advocacy service on 0808 800 5792.”
Kerrie, a care leaver who works with Coram Voice and who was moved 80 miles from home, said: “Being moved so far away was incredibly hard for me, both as a child being taken into care and as someone with autism. I was separated from everything I knew, during a time I was separated from everyone I knew. The first time I had a few weeks to prepare but no choice, so I tried to make the best of it. The second time I was moved to Wales, from my Local Authority in London, and only given a weekend’s notice. I feel both these moves stopped me from feeling safe or settled in either placement and I still, three and a half years later, deeply struggle to feel a sense of home or attachment to where I live.”