Of the 215 young people in out of area placements
- 34 were 18+; 91 were 16-17; 83 were 13-15; 6 were 10-12.
- 111 were identified as male and 103 were identified as female.
- 123 were identified as white and 85 were identified as BAME.
- Only 6 out of 13 sites returned data on disability with 41 young people reported as having a diagnosed disability.
- 81 of the 215 young people had at least one missing episode: with 502 missing episodes in total.
As the title of this blog suggest, relocating wasn’t an easy decision for local areas.
And of course, it’s a last resort because a number of the young people are settled and it’s been quite hard, they’ve got positive attachments in their foster placements, local foster placements, and so, we’ve had long discussions about the pros and cons of moving (Participating local authority)
Local areas were conflicted around their use of relocation. We analysed their reasons for moving against Shuker’s ‘Multi-dimensional Safety’. Here’s a summary of what we found:
The primary justification for relocations was concern for physical safety.
If I look at the list of young people, particularly the LAC, the looked after children that are placed out of borough, I would say that all, I'd probably say that 98% of those have been placed out of borough due to concerns in relation to exploitation, their safety around serious group violence, or their criminality, without a doubt. (Participating local authority)
Relocations were used to disrupt harmful relationships and create opportunities for positive or therapeutic relationships. However it was noted that relocations could sever important relationships and also make it hard for services to maintain relationships with young people.
Because it takes them out of the area, it takes them away from their family, and you can't support them as well. So we've worked hard to bring children back into the authority, and so we have very few cases. (Participating local authority)
Less reference was made to the psychological and emotional well-being of young people when relocation was used. A small number of sites reported moving young people specifically to access therapeutic support, or the positive emotional break a relocation can create for young people. However for those areas that didn’t use relocations, or tried not to, concerns were raised about the impact of relocations on young people’s emotional wellbeing as a result of disrupted relationships with parents, carers, friends and professionals.
We don't believe as an authority it's the right thing to do. Exploitation is everywhere, isn't it, and it's how we try to manage that. I think you're isolating children even more, and the message that you're giving to them by moving them away, you're taking them away from everything that they know. (Participating local authority)
Summarising our findings we reflect that local authorities are clearly concerned about the welfare of young people, particularly their physical safety which often drives the use of relocations. Yet there is a lack of oversight of the rate at which these interventions are used and a lack of planning to inform effective transitions into, and out of placements. Relocations will sometimes be the safest and most effective response to EFH. However, we propose that greater attention is required to explore contextual interventions that could create safety to enable young people to return to their home authority
You can read our full recommendations and plans for phase two here.