On Wednesday 13th December, ITV aired a controversial documentary investigating Britain’s privately run children’s homes.

The programme, presented by child psychologist Professor Tanya Byron, looks at the vast amounts of money exchanging hands in these homes and tries to ascertain whether these sums are effectively used to provide children with the love and attention they should be receiving. The undercover investigation ran for a year.

An article in the Guardian offers a good summary of the programme. The piece explains that undercover reporters found serious failings, including evidence of understaffing, inadequate training, and closure of homes before Ofsted inspections were due, to avoid failing the checks.

The documentary also highlights dangerous social work practices and routine emotional and physical abuse of children inside the homes. The Guardian piece also tells us:

“Residential care does not come cheap. The filmmakers confirmed with Cambian Group that one home that employed their undercover reporter charges £4,800 a week. A Keys home that features in the film charged a council £5,100 a week. Meanwhile, care staff are told to keep to tight budgets: one worker quoted £5 a day per child for food. At a Cambian home, the budget per child was said to be £45 for activities, with £50 for meals. The two reporters employed by Keys and Cambian were paid £7.20 per hour and £16,500 a year respectively.”

Whilst this is happening, private equity firms are making large fortunes from failing care homes.  It’s not a coincidence that children in these homes are being short changed, both emotionally and financially.

Child rights campaigner, Jane Doe watched the documentary when it aired:

“I’m just shocked and saddened at how much these homes are paid per child, compared to what the child actually gets. It’s £5,000 a week per child – but each child gets only £119 for basic food, not even therapy or support of any kind. It made me cry.”

At what point is the government going to intervene to stop these practices? It really is time.

You can catch the programme over on ITV’s Hub.

Very many thanks to Jane for alerting us to this documentary.