In August 2021, we worked with Tulip Siddiq MP to pose a Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ) to the Department for Education regarding the process for tracking outcomes for Looked After Children who have placements abroad. Such outcome tracking is undertaken for children in England, to ensure placements are fit for purpose. The then Minister for Children, Vicky Ford, responded that the Department tracks the country of placement, but no mention was made about the outcomes for these placements. To see the full response, click here
. While the answer was not sufficient, we were pleased with Ms Ford’s statement that “[t]he statutory responsibilities for looked after children remain with the placing local authority and Directors of Children’s Services who must approve all distant placements.” This is a clear message, and the first time we have seen this from the Department; placing local authorities must not use lack of jurisdiction as an excuse not to ensure the well-being of a child in a placement overseas.
In September 2021, we worked with Andrew Gwynne MP on a WPQ asking whether the Department for Education has considered researching the outcomes for children placed with family overseas. This research is vital to ensure children placed with family overseas are safe and given the same support as children placed with family in England. The newly appointed Minister for Children, Will Quince MP, responded that the Department “has not made an assessment in this area”, and reiterated his predecessors' statement that local authorities have a statutory responsibility to safeguard young people, regardless of the country of their placement. You can read the full response here
. Currently, we do not know the numbers of Looked After children placed with family abroad, and, if the Department for Education were to start recording this data, it would help to better inform research and policy around international social care.
In October 2021, we worked with Andrew Gwynne MP on his follow up question, asking what reasons the Department for Education has for why they do not account for the outcomes of children placed in care across borders, and whether they will reconsider conducting research into the long-term outcomes of children placed across borders. The Minister for Children reiterated the responsibility of local authorities to safeguard young people but did not commit to recording any further data on Looked After Children who are placed overseas. He acknowledged the need for real and significant change within the current system, stating that is why they launched the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. To see Quince's full response, click here
. CFAB has responded to calls for evidence to the review and will continue to offer our expertise to ensure the safety and provisions for international placements are on par with those in England. We will be working with Mr Gwynne and Ms Siddiq’s offices to continue to highlight that lack of care for and support of children in multinational families as part of our Safe, Secure and Thriving campaign.