No placement in the COUNTRY available for vulnerable Dorset youngster

No placement in the COUNTRY available for vulnerable Dorset youngster

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:45am 7th May 2020. (Updated at 11:47am 7th May 2020)

Dorset has been unable to find a secure placement for a vulnerable youngster – anywhere in the country.

The authority is also having difficulty finding any care placements with many establishments having closed their doors to new admissions during the coronavirus crisis.

Dorset currently has around 480 children and young people in its care, one of the highest rates for comparable counties, with more due to come into care in the coming weeks.

Cllr Andrew Parry
Cllr Andrew Parry

Children’s services and education brief holder Cllr Andrew Parry says there are a number of planned admissions into the care system expected soon although there is “a significant pressure in placing children within the county.”

He said he was concerned that the costs of new placements, if they could be found, was likely to increase, because of the national shortage of places.

“This is a serious concern, especially with regard to secure accommodation of which there is a nationwide shortage,” he said.

Theresa Leavy
Theresa Leavy

Executive director for children’s services, Theresa Leavy, told councillors that problems have been compounded by many Dorset foster carers being unable to take additional children because they are either shielding or isolating to protect their own families or existing foster children, or simply do not have the space.

She said that, nationally, about half of the placements for children and young people were no longer admitting children.

“There are presently no secure care beds across the country and today, 51 local authorities, including us, are seeking one of those beds…so we are in a challenging position,” she said.

She paid tribute to social workers who have continued to visit troubled families throughout the crisis and the way local schools, working in clusters, had risen to the challenge of both lockdown and providing places for vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter