After the post about Lancashire yesterday it has been pointed out that Essex are also considering closing some of their children's homes (unless charities wish to buy them.)
11% of the 60,000 children in care are in children's home. The state makes for a bad parent. But the outcomes are especially dire with this institutionalised arrangement rather than with foster carers in a (relatively) normal family environment.
If any Labour councillors complain about the closure of Children's Home they might care to read the 2006 paper from the Labour Government entitled Care Matters.
A residential setting will best meet the needs of some children but for the majority of children in care a placement in a family environment will be most suitable.
On school performance it says:
The educational outcomes of children whose last placement is in residential care are even worse than those of other Looked After children, with 73% failing to get even a single GCSE.
The paper notes that between 2000-01 and 2004-05 total expenditure increased by around £230 million for children in residential care - a 20% increase. But the improvement in educational performance was only 3%. Damningly the paper conceded:
The gap between children in care and other children gaining 5A*-C grades has not narrowed but has begun to widen.
Figures released last month indicate nothing much has changed. The report says 17 per cent of children placed in foster care achieved 5 or more GCSES at grades A* to C including English and mathematics compared to 3 per cent for children placed in residential settings.
Research suggests that around 27% of adult prisoners have spent time in care. I don't know whether there is data available showing if those brought up in Children's Homes are more likely to end up in prison than those brought up by foster carers – but I think we can all have a pretty good guess. Of course much better still is the permanent loving home provided by adoption.
For children in residential homes the average weekly cost is £2,428, and for foster care it is £489.11.
What percentage of Looked After Children in your area are being brought up in Children's Homes? These figures from 2008 are the most recent I could find. Click here then on Excel where it says "first set of additional tables". Then on Table LAA3.
Here are the councils I spotted where it is over 15%:
Kensington & Chelsea. 21%.
Bracknell Forest. 19%.
West Sussex. 18%