Children in Hertfordshire’s care system have had up to 10 placements in 12 months

Some children in the care system in Hertfordshire have had 10 placements in 12 months. Picture: Pexe

Some children in the care system in Hertfordshire have had 10 placements in 12 months. Picture: Pexels. - Credit: Archant

More than 100 children in care in Hertfordshire have had three or more placements in the past year, according to the latest data from the county council.

And some of those ‘looked after’ children have notched up as many as 10 different placements.

The data was presented to the latest meeting of the council’s Children, Young People and Families Cabinet Panel.

It showed that as of December 2018 there were 846 ‘looked after’ children in Herts, and a further 113 unaccompanied asylum seeker children.

Of those children, 128 had had three or more different placements in the past 12 months.

Liberal Democrat councillor Anthony Rowlands asked for a report to outline what the council is doing to address the issue.

A spokesman for Herts County Council said: “Children and young people in care move placements for a range of reasons regarding their complex needs.

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“Hertfordshire Children’s Services work alongside foster carers and residential homes to provide support for placements and to maintain stability for children wherever possible.”

The committee also heard that for the first time in Hertfordshire more children were leaving care through special guardianship orders than through adoption.

A special guardianship order appoints one or more individuals to be a child’s ‘special guardian’ when they cannot live with their birth parents and would benefit from a legally secure placement.

It is less secure than an adoption order because it does not end the legal relationship between child and birth parents.

According to the data, in the 12 months between September 2017 and 2018 16.1 per cent of those leaving care did so with a special guardianship order – compared to 11.2 per cent being adopted.

In the 12 months prior to this, 16.6 per cent of those leaving care were adopted and 10.9 per cent had a special guardianship order.

A HCC spokesman said: “Hertfordshire Children’s Services’ aim is for children to have permanence in order to have happy and healthy childhoods. Whether this is achieved via a special guardianship order or an adoption order is related to the specific circumstances of the individual cases.

“There has been a national rise in the use of special guardianship orders as an outcome from care proceedings, often meaning children are achieving permanence with an extended family member.”

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