‘Lack of knowledge’ around needs of children in care

Ofsted has warned that there is a ‘lack of collective knowledge’ around the needs of children in care and has called for a national audit of children needs.

The department’s latest report draws on responses to surveys and discussions between inspectors and children placed in children’s homes, staff and others to provide insights into the diverse and complex needs of children who go into children’s homes, and the life experiences that led to them living there.

It for further research to be done, including a national audit of children needs, to provide better understanding of the experiences of children in care, and of the complexities of sufficiency in children’s social care.

Looking at the experiences of 113 children in care, the study found that their needs were very diverse, and there was usually more than one reason they were living in a children’s home. Two thirds of the children in the study had entered a children’s home because of some form of interruption in their previous care, including: foster placement breakdown (41 per cent); children’s home breakdown (15 per cent); and family breakdown (12 per cent).

Although a children’s home placement had not been the original care plan for just under half of children taking part in the study, around three quarters of these children were found to be well matched to their home.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said: “This report confirms how important it is that we have a better understanding, at a strategic level, of children’s needs so we can better plan for their futures. I’m sure these findings will be valuable to wider conversations and future research on sufficiency – which is about the provision of the right care, in the right place, at the right time, to help children in need of care achieve the best outcomes.”

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