Suffolk: Children in care sent more than 20 miles from their families

Children being places miles from their families

Children being places miles from their families - Credit: PA

Nearly one in three vulnerable youngsters cared for in children’s homes in Suffolk are sent more than 20 miles away from their home and family.

The news comes as it emerges Suffolk County Council (SCC) spends £2,800 every week on each child placed in residential care, costing nearly £7million annually.

The latest figures, which have been published by the Department for Education, revealed a total of 780 children were cared for by the authority in 2011/12.

A SCC spokesman said 48 children were looked after every week on average in that year, meaning the care bill totalled £6.98m.

The Government report also found almost one in three children – 32% – were placed in residential care more than 20 miles away from home by the council.

Ipswich charity the Ormiston Children and Families Trust has been running a project for 11 months in the town which supports parents who have had children taken into care.

Their Mpower project is an early intervention scheme that provides one-to-one, intensive support and guidance to women who continue to become pregnant despite having previous children taken into care.

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An Ormiston spokesman said: “The figures show there is a clear financial cost when children are taken into care, but there is also a human cost.

“The project is not about reuniting parents with their children. It is about empowering mothers to make the right decisions.”

A SCC spokesman said the authority has a “duty to safeguard children in Suffolk”.

“We will always strive to put the needs of the child or young person first and we work very closely with families to come up with the best possible outcome for the individual,” he added.

“This can sometimes mean that children and young people need time away from their families, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

“The county council always tries to place children as close to their families and schools as possible but for a number of reasons this is sometimes not always possible.

“Sometimes the location of available and appropriate carers can mean that children are placed further away due to the large and rural nature of Suffolk.

“In other cases it may be that the child or young person has special needs, either behavioural, learning or physical disabilities which require specialist support which is only available in certain areas.

“In very rare cases children need to be placed a further distance for their own safety.

“There is always a need for more foster carers and adoptive families in Suffolk.”

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