Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published her second Stability Index, an annual report which tracks the experiences of children in care. The Index gathers data from local authorities in England to assess how frequently children in care are ‘pinging’ around the care system – changing home, school or social worker over the course of a year.
This year’s Stability Index shows many children in care are receiving stable and consistent care but reveals, for the second year running, that thousands of children are still ‘pinging’ around the system, changing homes, schools or social worker. Almost 2,400 children changed home, school and social worker over the last twelve months and, looking at data across two years, over 3,000 children had to move home four or more times. Over three years, around 2,500 children moved home five or more times.
The report also shows just how disruptive changing school can be: around 4,300 children in care moved school in the middle of the year, and their new school was 24 miles away on average. Meanwhile around 400 children who moved school ended up missing a whole term as a result.
The research suggests that older children – especially those entering care from the age of 12 to 15 – are most at risk of instability, and may need extra support to prevent placements breaking down.