Three quarters of children inside the care system experience being moved from placements and schools, as well as changes in social worker. These are the latest findings from the Children’s Commissioner’s Stability Index, an annual report which looks at the extent to which children are moved around the care system.

The report includes the following statistics:

  • There are over 70,000 children currently in care
  • Only 1 in 4 children in care experienced no placement move, no school move and no social worker change within a year.
  • Only 1 in 10 children experienced none of these changes over two years.
  • Nearly 2,400 children (6% of children in care attending school) experienced a placement move, a school move and a change in social worker all in 2016/17.
  • Over 350 children (1% of those in care attending school) experienced multiple placement moves, a mid-year school move and multiple social worker changes all within the same year.
  • Over 3,000 children (6% of those in care in both 2015/16 and 2016/17) experienced four or more placement moves over two years.
  • 1,300 children (3% of those in care in both 2015/16 and 2016/17) experienced multiple placement moves in both years.
  • Nearly 4,400 children (6% of all children in care) experienced multiple social worker changes two years in a row.
  • Over the longer term, most children in care experience a placement move. Over a period of three years, nearly 2,500 children experienced five or more changes.
  • Over a period of four years, 2,700 children experienced five or more changes.

While the report tells us that rates of instability have not increased, and that there may be good reasons for placement changes, the number of children involved is staggering, as is the idea that we should accept instability when it comes to children who are in need. Children inside the care system need stability as much as, if not more, than children living in functional households.

The report also highlights another important area, which is data collection. In her executive summary, the Children’s Commissioner explains that the findings are limited because the quality of national data is inadequate. This is something we have written about often, and remains one of Researching Reform’s bug bears.

If you have a chance to look at the report, do tell us what you think.