Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “This is an important and timely review. I welcome the recognition that many children living in children’s residential care see it as a positive experience and the best choice for them. Children’s preferences, views and wishes need to be taken into account at all times when important decisions about their care are being taken, including where they will live. No child is the same and no residential children’s home is the same but the best homes will be supportive environments with caring staff that can provide children with a sense of commitment and belonging which may have been previously absent in their lives. The individual circumstances of young people and the wide range of experiences that lead to children entering care mean there should not be a one fits all solution and we need a range of options that best meet their needs.
“Smaller children’s homes with lower ratios of children to staff lend themselves to nurturing, supportive and caring environments, which feel like family homes and less like institutions. Changes to where they live can be extremely disruptive to children’s lives and we need to overall reduce the rate at which this happens to children in care. I am investigating this issue as part of our ongoing work. The recommendations for the commissioning of children’s home places could improve the effectiveness of the way local authorities acquire these vital services and have the potential to increase the long-term supply of the kind of homes children want and need.
“Young people who have been in care can face a range of disadvantages and may struggle to find places in education, training or employment so it is vital there is continued support. Care leavers may currently have a sense of having to cope alone when they leave residential children’s homes, so the provision of continuing help and good advice as they move on in life would be a hugely positive step.”