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Detail of outcome
We received 135 online responses with over 250 representatives attending consultation events. There was strong support for building on good practice and clarifying expectations if there are concerns about children’s safety. Some respondents raised concerns about how some proposals might operate in practice. In response, we plan to work with local authority representatives and others to develop guidance about how the out-of-authority placement process should be managed to better safeguard children.
This consultation seeks views on proposals to amend the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010. We are proposing these amendments to ensure that where looked-after children are placed out of authority in distant placements, they are effectively safeguarded and their welfare is promoted. We want such placements to be firmly in the child’s best interests.
These proposals take forward the recommendations in the report of the Expert Group on Children’s Homes Quality, which included conclusions from the Out of Area Placements Task and Finish Group, published on 24 April 2013.
These groups were established in July 2012 following the conclusion of the high profile Rochdale child sexual exploitation trial and reports from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) and the Joint All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry on, respectively, child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups, and children who go missing from care. These reports highlighted particular concerns about the care of children who were placed, often at short notice, in distant children’s homes a long way from the authorities responsible for their care. Children in such circumstances were vulnerable to going missing from their placements and could be targeted for exploitation. They could be ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
This consultation also seeks views on the proposal to amend part 7 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, in regard to 16- and 17-year-old looked-after children, so that a decision to cease looking after this group of children is not put into effect until it has been approved and signed off by the Director of Children’s Services.