'Inward migration' of out-of-town children being placed in Doncaster Council's care expected to rise

The number of children from outside of Doncaster being placed into the council's care is expected to rise adding extra pressures.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 12:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 12:32 pm
More children from outside of Doncaster are being placed into the borough's care system

Bosses from Doncaster Council and Doncaster Children's Services Trust said around 200 out-of-town children are now in the authority's care.

In a children & young people's overview scrutiny panel meeting on Tuesday, councillors were told Doncaster was becoming an 'attractive place' to set up a private children's home due to lower costs.

The meeting heard some children as far away as London were being moved to Doncaster because of a lack of suitable places in their area and it was cheaper to do so.

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Mark Douglas, head of looked after children at DCST, said the issue of children being transferred to Doncaster was an 'emerging issue' over the last 12 months.

The children's boss said out of 200 out-of-town children, Doncaster had 70 from Rotherham.

Damien Allen, the top officer in charge of children's services at Doncaster Council, said the authority would follow Barnsley's lead and write to every local authority on the issue.

He said Barnsley Council was 'saturated' with private children's homes with kids coming from other local authorities.

Bossed were keen to stress there are protocols in place to recoup costs from other authorities. But both added not every council notified them about children being placed in Doncaster and the situation was 'inconsistent'.

Finningley councillor Jane Cox asked council and trust bosses on the growing number of children in care being moved to Doncaster.

DCST boss Mark Douglas said: "There are around 200 children in the borough that we’re currently aware of and I anticipate this will increase because the affordability of housing in Doncaster means that it’s attractive for people to set up private children’s homes.

"Neighbouring authorities have become saturated with them so providers are looking at other places to establish those and I’m aware there is interest in the Doncaster area.

"I’ve had a conversations to try and engage in a regional conversation with children’s services and councils to try and co-ordinate a better response to children placed across South Yorkshire.

Addressing councillors, Mr Allen added: "We know the numbers going out but we always don’t know the numbers coming in. Some authorities are not as diligent as others in notifying us. Across the board, it's not being done consistently.

"In other authorties, such as the London borough, there is a real challenge on cost so they end up exporting them out.

"On the flip-side, we’re trying to reduce our own out-of-area placements because we do know the costs are higher and the outcomes are usually worse for children."