Stopping the Placement of London Children in Thanet
After campaigning hard on the out of area placement of looked-after children in Thanet, I am delighted that the Education Secretary has announced thst he will be looking at many of the issues I have raised, particularly children being placed out of borough.
I was extremely pleased to discuss these issues with Mr Gove when he visited Cliftonville earlier on this year. I was able to provide him with a comprehensive overview of the challenges in the area and put forward our concerns about the placing of vulnerable children in inappropriate surroundings.
I will be looking at the report being issued very closely and will keep pushing for the changes needed in our area.
Success in Thanet MPs’ Campaign as Councils Told to Stop Placing Vulnerable Children Outside Area
3rd January 2014
Thanet’s MPs, Laura Sandys and Sir Roger Gale, have expressed their strong support for the Government’s decision to crack down on the irresponsible and unnecessary out of area placements of looked-after children in Thanet.
Speaking shortly after the Department for Education’s announcement of new measures to increase scrutiny over such decisions, which currently rest with local authorities, Laura said:
“There are some great care providers in our area, but placements from outside the community rarely benefit the children in question and place an unfair burden on the people of Thanet. For that reason we have been campaigning tirelessly on this issue - challenging the councils which make the irresponsible placements and appealing to the Government to take robust action.
“Last year I welcomed Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Education, to Thanet to see the issues we are facing first hand. I am very glad that the Secretary of State has been so responsive to our needs and is taking rigorous steps to make sure that out-of-area placements will now be publicly registered, highly scrutinised and signed off only in the most exceptional and appropriate circumstances.
“This announcement is excellent news for our area and a reflection that the Government has listened to our concerns and truly understands the need for special protection for children in care.”
Sir Roger added:
“We, together with Kent County Council, have been challenging the concept of the out-of-area placement of cared-for children since the publication of the first Thanet report many years ago. The Conservative Leader of Thanet Council at that time, together with Kent`s Director of Social Services and I raised this during a personal meeting with Labour`s then Minister of State. We agreed the principle that children in need of foster care should only be placed out of area under exceptional circumstances but, sadly, that principle has not been followed and as a result vulnerable young people have been placed in establishments located cheek-by-jowl with registered sex offenders. I am delighted that Laura was able to persuade the Secretary of State to see the situation for himself and that, as a result, effective measures will now be put in place to secure the safety of the young people and to put an end to the strain on the limited resources of East Kent”.
Sandys Welcomes Education Secretary’s Announcement on Quality of Care Homes
13th September 2013
After many years campaigning on this, Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet, today welcomed the Education Secretary’s announcement that the Government will be implementing a series of measures to improve the quality of care for our looked after children.
The Education Secretary has announced that he will be:
- Re-examining the rules that prevent basic information being shared about who is responsible for children’s homes and the quality of them;
- Looking at the location of children’s homes, particularly those homes in areas with above average crime rates;
- Changing rules so that councils, the police and children’s homes providers carry out risk assessments of the location of new homes;
- Reviewing why so many children are located out of borough, with some sent over 20miles away from home.
Speaking after the announcement, Laura said: “I am delighted that the Education Secretary will be looking at many of the issues I have raised, particularly children being placed out of borough. I was extremely pleased to discuss these issues with Mr Gove when he visited Cliftonville earlier on this year. I was able to provide him with a comprehensive overview of the challenges in the area and put forward our concerns about the placing of vulnerable children in inappropriate surroundings. I will be looking at the report being issued very closely and will keep pushing for the changes needed in our area.”
Laura Sandys Welcomes Secretary of State for Education to Thanet
21st January 2013
Laura Sandys MP welcomed the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, to Thanet on Friday. During his visit, Mr Gove went to Cliftonville Primary School and later discussed issues surrounding looked after children.
Laura said: “It was great to have the Secretary of State in Thanet, and to show him the excellent work being undertaken at one of our local primary schools. I know that he was very impressed with the work going on at Cliftonville Primary. Mrs Troth, Headteacher, and Mr Somers, Executive Head, provided Mr Gove with a tour of the school emphasising their work on literacy from an early age and the special programme in place to teach English as an Additional Language for children from Eastern European backgrounds.
“I was also pleased to have the opportunity to discuss issues surrounding looked after children with the Secretary of State. The Margate Taskforce provided him with a very comprehensive overview of the challenges in the area and we all put forward our concerns about the placing of vulnerable children in inappropriate surroundings. This is an issue which I have long been pushing on and the discussion we had was extremely productive.
Photo: Peter Barnett
“The Secretary of State very much enjoyed his visit to the constituency and I will be following up with him on several of the points we discussed in order that the concerns raised are addressed”.
Sandys Welcomes Better Protection for Looked After Children and Greater Scrutiny on the Placement of
21st May 2012
Laura Sandys MP is continuing to campaign hard on the out of area placement of looked-after children in Thanet, and was very pleased to obtain a meeting with the Minister for Children, Edward Timpson MP, to discuss the progress of the Quality Expert Group for Looked After Children and Young People. In addition, she is asking questions to Ministers on the placement of prisoners released and placed in Thanet.
Laura said: “I was really pleased to have the opportunity to meet with the Minister who thoroughly understood the problems Thanet has been facing in regards to this issue. For too long we have seen disproportionately high numbers of looked after children being placed in our area by Councils from around the country. This is not only unfair on Thanet but also on these children who have already had their worlds turned upside down and would very often benefit from being close to their family and friends in familiar surroundings. Huge progress is now being made in doing what is right for our communities and for looked after children. The Government is really listening to the concerns of many.”
Today Laura also asked for special attention for Thanet in terms of probation placements. She has received assurances from the Minister as well.
The Minister for Children informed Laura that he is seeking to introduce widespread changes, particularly targeting those distant out of area placements. These include:
- Strengthening regulations so that out of area placements must be agreed at a senior level within a council’s children’s services;
- The placing authority must consult with the local authority to ensure that the placement will genuinely meet the needs of the child concerned;
- Better information sharing will ensure that homes have to inform their local authority whenever a child enters or leaves their care. Local authorities should also have a stronger role in scrutinising quality assurance arrangements, receiving reports about the quality of homes on a monthly basis;
- Laura has been campaigning to bring the issue of unsuitable areas for children’s homes to the Government’s attention. The Minister now plans to consult on changing the process for registering a home, meaning the location’s suitability must be considered before a home opens.
The Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation, Jeremy Wright MP, has instigated an assessment of every prisoner relocated into Thanet and a risk analysis so we have a full commitment to reducing releases into our community.
The Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt. Hon Chris Grayling MP, has also announced legislation requiring every offender released from custody to receive at least a year of supervision and rehabilitation in the community.
Laura said “I very much welcome these changes. After much campaigning, things are really moving in the right direction and I’ll be continuing to push hard to ensure that we are protecting the interests and safety our local communities as well as the vulnerable children in our care.”
Sandys and Gale: Minister Takes Action to Strengthen Protection for Vulnerable Children in Care.
Laura Sandys MP Calls for Action against Local Authorities who place Children out of area
In Monday’s education questions, Laura Sandys, MP for South Thanet and Sandwich, urged the Government to go further to deter local authorities from placing children in care outside their own local authorities. She called on the Department to consider what more could be done to ensure region’s have sufficient foster placements to cater to their own needs.
For years, Thanet was the destination of choice for many London Boroughs to re-home their looked after children. In April, the Government brought into force new statutory guidance which placed a duty on local authorities to, wherever possible, place children in care within their own local authority.
Laura said: “By introducing new guidance to encourage authorities to re-home children in care within their own local area, the Government has made great headway in addressing what had become a real problem in Thanet. We have started to see the number of vulnerable young people from outside the area decrease – in July 2010, there were 237 looked after children, by August 2011 this had reduced to 222. Many authorities have hugely improved by increasing their own care provision, but others such as Greenwich have increased the number of children they have sent to Thanet by 30.”
“Thanet has its own issues - both local police and teachers have expressed concerns that the vulnerable young people from outside the area are placing a real strain on local services. Affordable housing has meant that looked after children have sadly become an industry in Thanet – people have been profiting. Not only is it important that deprived areas are not forced to deal with other region’s issues, but the charity Barnardos is clear that children are happiest when they stay close to their friends and school. For the benefit of children and Thanet’s public services, we need to stop the placement of looked after children outside their local authority boundaries.”