Children in care moved hundreds of miles outside Bexley

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 February 2019

Councils have had to cut child funding across London. The capital is the hardest hit region in England. Picture: PA.

Councils have had to cut child funding across London. The capital is the hardest hit region in England. Picture: PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Dozens of Bexley’s children in care have been moved hundreds of miles outside the borough, it can be revealed.

Children who need specialist support have been sent as far as Leicester or Liverpool in the past five years, according to a Freedom of Information request.

Last year alone, 54 young people were housed outside Bexley.

The majority of youngsters are housed nearby, in Kent or Greenwich – but in some cases they have been moved as far away as Derby, Gloucestershire and Norfolk.

The council said it looks to have children living as close to family as possible, but this isn’t always possible.

“We understand how important family, friends and community are to our looked-after young people,” a spokesman said.

“Wherever possible we support them to live close to their family when it is safe enough for this to be so and our first choice is always for looked-after young people to live with local foster carers in a family setting.

“Some children who are looked after need more specialist support and care than it is possible to offer in a family environment. Indeed for some, family care isn’t the most helpful option.”

Since 2013, children have been placed in 42 other areas. The furthest away has been Lancashire, where a placement was made last year.

A total of 281 children have been housed outside of Bexley since 2013.

The council has a budget of £6m for its placements of looked-after children, up by just under £1m on 2014/15.

The spokesman said: “Our looked-after children only live away from Bexley when this is in their best interests.

“We take great care to identify specialist arrangements that will meet their needs and which are regularly reviewed.

“We do not lose sight of the importance of local connections or family networks and we work hard to find ways to bring children and young people back into local family settings or to their own families with additional care and support. ”

Nearby Greenwich Council has spent millions placing children up to 300 miles outside the borough, racking up a bill of £20m in the process.

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