Government aims to reform care homes

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Some local authorities are sending vulnerable children to residential care homes many miles away from friends and family. According to the government, this makes them vulnerable to abuse. Some of the victims of the Rochdale child abuse scandals were children from care homes.  One third of looked after children live outside their local authority.

The Times, which reports on this issue, says that children from troubled backgrounds have few lifelines. One such lifeline might be their school, a friend or a family member. The newspaper suggests that the motivation of local authorities is not simply financial, but also a desire to remove difficult children from their borough.

There are cases where removing a child from his/her area may actually be beneficial because the child is then removed from all the unhealthy influences that have built up around them. In relation to family, regrettably many of these children have families which are completely dysfunctional and consequently unlikely to offer support even if the child is nearby. In any children's home, there is always a risk that predatory abusers will congregate and seek to entice children into drugs, drink and prostitution.

On the other hand, as the Times says, even one positive contact is important to a child, and very often budgetary concerns can mean that a child simply does not get the support to which they are legally entitled.

Malcolm Johnson 

Associate Solicitor Advocate - Personal Injury team

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