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BASW urges Government to invest in residential care of children

BASW has called for radical improvement to current residential care facilities, and a right for children to be cared for near to their own communities, following reforms announced by Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, to combat the sexual exploitation of children.

Based on recommendations made by deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz, Mr Loughton is proposing 3 immediate steps; a new system to record how many children in care go missing every year, children’s homes to be properly protected as police and local authorities are not currently able to share information about where they are, and children to be sent to homes closer to where they are originally from.

Hilton Dawson, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), said:

“The government’s approach to the sickening problem of child sexual exploitation addresses the symptoms without facing up to the fundamental problem, that the public and voluntary sectors have completely retreated from providing residential care to vulnerable children; many local authorities have closed all of their children’s homes.

“The most needy children in our society have a right to high quality residential care when and where they need it.

“We need a much more positive approach and preparedness to invest in, and use, residential care. Residential care is a vital resource for all looked after children, and should be readily available in every locality, to minimise disruption to children’s lives when they need to be looked after.

“The running down of local authority secure accommodation has meant that thousands of the most needy young people, including the young people who have been sexually exploited and others who have ended up in prison have been left at grotesque risk and appalling harm.

“BASW is also concerned that only a quarter of Local Safeguarding Children Boards in England are implementing the 2009 government guidance on safeguarding children and young people from sexual exploitation. We hope that the reforms will include plans to enforce current protocols and promote better partnership working between care home staff, social workers, the police, teachers, health professionals and local authorities.”

“We need urgent national action to provide a whole range of children’s homes across the country, to turn a history of appalling failure into the sort of care that our most needy children deserve.”