There are not enough secure places in children’s homes to meet demand, the BBC has warned.
Despite the fact that demand for secure children’s homes is going up, two have closed down over the last year and several more are at risk of doing so. There are currently 15 such facilities across England and Wales, which offer around 100 places each. In 2013, English courts ordered that 269 children be held securely, after ruling that they were a danger to themselves or to others.
The BBC reports that, due to the shortage of appropriate placements, some local authorities have had to take such children on rural camping trips instead. Other vulnerable children are held in non-secure homes due to the lack of available places in suitable accommodation.
Gail Hopper is the director of children’s services at Rochdale council and the secure accommodation spokeswoman for the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. She expressed concern that some troubled children are being placed in settings which are not subject to Ofsted regulation.
She said that if “a young person with significantly complex needs” is housed “in a hotel or a barge”, it should be a cause for very real concern as those places are not “geared up to looking after such a young person”.
Meanwhile, Ofsted has announced that children’s homes will face tougher inspections starting next month. Inspectors will be granted the power to give some homes an immediate ‘inadequate’ rating. Currently, potentially failing homes are re-visited for a full inspection between six and eight weeks later before the rating is given.