Vulnerable Isle Of Wight Children Sent To Scotland Due To Lack Of Island Care Placements
Vulnerable Isle of Wight children have had to be sent as far as Scotland to be looked after, due to a lack of available care placements on the Island.
The Isle of Wight Council is forking out millions of pounds to relocate them to the mainland.
Since 2013, the number of off-Island placements for children in the Isle of Wight Council’s care has risen 365 per cent — from 20 in 2013 to 93 in 2023.
During the past ten years, the council has had to find 318 suitable placements for Island children, costing the authority £32,464,445, a recent Freedom of Information request has found.
Some of those placements have been just over the Solent, in Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth.
Others have been further afield in Wales, Scotland and County Durham, due to particular needs or availability.
In the last ten years, six children have gone to placements in Wales and four to Scotland.
The Isle of Wight Council says it prioritises the needs of children in its care and works hard to ensure any placement best meets the child’s needs.
The authority said it always places children on the Island where possible and as close to the Island when a placement cannot be found locally that meets a child’s needs.
It says it also works hard to bring children back to the Island wherever possible and is looking to increase capacity so more children can stay here.
At the end of March, the council had 295 children in its care, of which 61.4 per cent were placed on the Island.
Children placed on the mainland are in a range of placements, from foster care to secure children’s homes and specialist residential children’s homes.
Specialist residential placements are not available on the Island and there is a national shortage, the authority said, so are significantly more expensive due to the additional support and interventions the children require.
The placement of one child alone has cost the authority more than £1.4 million over two years.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, costs rocketed with the Isle of Wight Council paying £7,276,983 for off-Island care — £2.5 million more than the year before.
The average placement over the ten years has cost £102,089.
The council says the costs of the specialist places are increasing nationally, driven largely by profit —a problem which has been raised with the government through the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.