More than half of children in care are given less than a week’s notice before being moved to live in a different placement, a survey has found.
The annual Children’s Care Monitor found that 55% were given seven days’ notice or less, while nearly one in four (23%) was only told they had to go on the day of their move.
The children’s rights director for England, Roger Morgan, said the situation was “worrying” because moving home was a major disruption in the lives of children in care. He also raised concerns about the separation of siblings while in care, as the research found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed said they had been put in different homes or foster placements from brothers or sisters who were also in care.
The monitor provides information to the government and the regulator Ofsted each year on the experiences of children in care and boarding schools.
The 2011 survey gathered the views of 1,870 children through an online questionnaire. It found that the average number of times participants had moved placement while being in care had increased from four times to five since last year. More than half of respondents (57%) said they had had no choice in their placement the last time they moved.
The report also found that 29% of care-leavers taking part in the survey were not in either education, employment or training. The percentage of those leaving care who had work or training has fallen from 17% in 2009 to just 12% now.
But Morgan welcomed the finding that 89% of children who took part in the survey had said that the care they received was good or very good.
He said: “Moving homes can sometimes create a great deal of disruption, so it is worrying that so many children are reporting that they were given little or no notice before moving placements.
“It is also worrying to learn there was little choice of placements in which to move.
“The continued high rate of separation of siblings in different placements in care remains a major concern to children.”
Morgan said the report found bullying remained a problem, particularly in residential special schools.
More positively, children reported that staff in special schools were more strongly engaged in tackling bullying than in other care settings.
The national director for learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, expressed concern that many young people were leaving care without a job, training place or course of study to go to.
Coffey said: “It is worrying that the percentage of care-leavers in work or training has been steadily falling from 17% in 2009, to 15% in 2010 and down again to 12% in 2011.
“Of those about to leave care, it is equally concerning that the percentage saying they receive help in finding work fell from 60% last year to 52% this year.”