Over half of children in care placed outside Cambridgeshire

Children taken into care in Cambridgeshire have been placed in homes outside of the county.

Children taken into care in Cambridgeshire have been placed in homes outside of the county. - Credit: PA Wire

More than half of children taken into care in Cambridgeshire have been placed in homes outside of the county, councillors have been told.

As of September this year, there were 645 children in care in Cambridgeshire, and 52 per cent of all the children in care were placed outside of the county’s boundaries.

At a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Corporate Parenting Sub-Committee on November 17, councillors were told that some of these placements were in Peterborough, and some were further away due to specialist care needs.

Councillors were told that in the case of children who are unaccompanied asylum seekers, many have been placed out of the area, but that the majority in this case were in Peterborough.

A council officer said: “We do have a few young people who are unaccompanied asylum seekers who are living quite a long way away and that’s usually because they are much younger and we have found foster placements which do meet their cultural and often language needs.

“This is one of the key things when they first come into this country is actually if they don’t speak any English it’s quite challenging.

“The vast majority of our young people are between 16 and 18 in this group and they tend to be placed in some of our specialist providers who have developed a specialism in working with this group of young people and they tend to be in Peterborough, just because of the housing.

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“So they are not very far away, I think we feel that actually their needs general are actually quite well met, we have very good working relationships with the colleges in Peterborough.

“I think generally it works quite well if we do have provision in Cambridgeshire we use it, but we’re trying to create communities of people, because it is easier for a young person if they have someone else who speaks their language or comes from the same culture, so that’s what we try and do.”

Another council officer explained that more generally children are placed outside of Cambridgeshire because they need “more specialist placements”.

Councillor Anna Bradnam raised that she would imagine that some of the children and young people in care might need to be placed out of the county for their own safety, which the council officer agreed was the case.

Council expecting rise in care leavers in education and employment

At the same meeting, councillors also heard how there is an expected increase in the number of care leavers in education, employment, or training, this year following a dip in 2020.

Data published by the Department for Education said that in 2020, 44 per cent of care leavers aged between 19 and 21 years old in Cambridgeshire were either in education, training, or had a job.

This was a decrease on the previous two years, where the figures stood at 47 per cent, but still an increase on 2017 when only 37 per cent were in education, employment or training.

The 2020 figure for Cambridgeshire is also lower than the percentage for the East of England, which stood at 54 per cent.

For 2021, the county council is predicting 49.1 per cent of care leavers aged 19 to 21 years old, to either be in some form of education or training, or to have a job.

The council is also estimating that figure to be 61.3 per cent of those aged 16 and 17 years old in care.

A council officer told councillors that it is a main aim for children in care to be supported to have high aspirations and that they are supported to remain in education.

Explaining the reasons believed to be behind the dip in numbers in 2020, she said that one factor was a system change which impacted the “quality of data available”.

She also said that the pandemic’s impact on the job market had led to an impact on the council’s figures for young care leavers in jobs.

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