Thanet’s MPs, Laura Sandys and Sir Roger Gale, have expressed their strong support for the Government’s decision to crack down on the irresponsible and unnecessary out of area placements of looked-after children in Thanet.
Speaking shortly after the Department for Education’s announcement of new measures to increase scrutiny over such decisions, which currently rest with local authorities, Laura said:
“There are some great care providers in our area, but placements from outside the community rarely benefit the children in question and place an unfair burden on the people of Thanet. For that reason we have been campaigning tirelessly on this issue - challenging the councils which make the irresponsible placements and appealing to the Government to take robust action.
“Last year I welcomed Michael Gove MP, the Secretary of State for Education, to Thanet to see the issues we are facing first hand. I am very glad that the Secretary of State has been so responsive to our needs and is taking rigorous steps to make sure that out-of-area placements will now be publicly registered, highly scrutinised and signed off only in the most exceptional and appropriate circumstances.
“This announcement is excellent news for our area and a reflection that the Government has listened to our concerns and truly understands the need for special protection for children in care.”
Sir Roger added:
“We, together with Kent County Council, have been challenging the concept of the out-of-area placement of cared-for children since the publication of the first Thanet report many years ago. The Conservative Leader of Thanet Council at that time, together with Kent`s Director of Social Services and I raised this during a personal meeting with Labour`s then Minister of State. We agreed the principle that children in need of foster care should only be placed out of area under exceptional circumstances but, sadly, that principle has not been followed and as a result vulnerable young people have been placed in establishments located cheek-by-jowl with registered sex offenders. I am delighted that Laura was able to persuade the Secretary of State to see the situation for himself and that, as a result, effective measures will now be put in place to secure the safety of the young people and to put an end to the strain on the limited resources of East Kent”.