Lack of stability for children in care in Hertfordshire

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News

More than 100 children in care in Hertfordshire have had three or more placements in the past year, according to the latest data from the county council.

And some of those ‘looked after’ children have notched up as many as 10 different placements.

The data was presented to the latest meeting of Herts County Council’s children, young people and families cabinet panel.

It showed that, as of December 2018, there were 846 ‘looked after’ children in Hertfordshire, and a further 113 unaccompanied asylum seeker children.

And 128 of those children had had three or more different placements in the past 12 months. Liberal Democrat Cllr Anthony Rowlands asked if there could be a report

compiled to outline what the council was doing to address the issue.

And following the meeting, a council spokesman said: “Children and young people in care move placements for a range of reasons regarding their complex needs.

“Hertfordshire Children Services works alongside foster carers and residential homes to provide support for placements and to maintain stability for children wherever possible.”

Meanwhile, the committee also heard that for the first time in Hertfordshire more children were leaving care through special guardianship orders than through adoption.

According to the data, in the 12 months between September 2017 and 2018, 16.1 per cent of those leaving care did so with a special guardianship order – compared to 11.2 per cent being adopted.

In the 12 months prior to this (Sept 2016-2017), 16.6 per cent of those leaving care were adopted and 10.9 per cent had a special guardianship order.

The council spokesman added: “Hertfordshire Children Services’ aim is for children to have permanence in order to have happy and healthy childhoods.

“Whether this is achieved via a special guardianship order or an adoption order is related to the specific circumstances of the individual cases.

“There has been a national rise in the use of special guardianships orders as an outcome from care proceedings often meaning that children are achieving permanence with an extended family member.”