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Teen held in hospital for months due to lack of secure children’s home place

A young teenager with complex needs in local authority care has been deprived of their liberty and held in hospital for several months because no secure placement could be found anywhere in England, a family court has heard.

General hospitals are not registered to provide secure accommodation for children in this situation, and do not have the specialist staff required to provide the care and therapeutic input needed.

High court judges have repeatedly raised concerns that children in urgent need of secure accommodation are waiting months to find a place, to the detriment of their mental health.

England has an acute shortage of secure therapeutic placements for children with severe emotional and psychological needs. Government figures published in March show there are just 132 spaces in secure homes for children with urgent and complex needs.

On any given day, about 50 children – twice as many as in the previous 12 months – were seeking a placement. About 30 children – an increase of a third on the previous 12-month period – end up placed hundreds of miles from home in Scotland due to the lack of available secure units in England.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “All children and young people deserve to grow up in stable, loving homes, and local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that there are enough places for their looked-after children.

“We are supporting local authorities through providing £259m to maintain capacity and expand provision in secure and open children’s homes.

“This will provide high quality, safe homes for some of our most vulnerable children. It will mean children can live closer to their families, schools, and health services, in settings that meet their needs.”

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Source: The Guardian, 4 October 2022


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