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London boroughs are placing looked after children in Kent

District has third highest number of looked after children in Kent

More than a third of children in care in the Canterbury district have been placed here by local authorities outside of Kent, a report reveals.

Most come from London boroughs who are supposed consult with receiving authorities about placements, which “rarely” happens, says the paper.

County councillors who met in Maidstone this week say they are growing increasingly concerned by the number of vulnerable youngsters finding themselves here.

A report which went before Kent County Council’s children’s, young people and education cabinet committee on Tuesday stated that there are 338 children in care in the Canterbury district.

Of those 137 have come from outside the Kent social care system system.

County Hall, seat of KCC in Maidstone

Thanet and Swale have the highest concentrations of both looked after children and those coming from outside the county.

Towns like Margate and Ramsgate have seen former boarding houses and hotels converted to children’s homes.

Thanet 522 children in care of which 234 come from outside Kent. The low cost of provision makes them attractive to London boroughs.

Swale has 362 of which 214 are from outside of the county.

Rosalind Binks, a Conservative county councillor for Broadstairs, accused the London boroughs of “off-loading” children to Kent without informing local authorities.

She added that high concentrations of looked after children intensifed problems of bullying and gang violence.

The report which went before the committee was compiled by Roger Gough, the KCC cabinet member for children, young, people and education, and Matt Dunkley, the corporate director for the service.

It stated: “Despite the requirement that placing authorities consult with the receiving authority as to the suitability of the placement area, this rarely happens.

“Young people are moved away from their family and social networks in their host authority where challenges such as gang activity or child sexual exploitation are a concern and are placed into areas where the concerns have the potential to replicate locally.

“On occasions Kent has only become aware of the placement when the young people have come to the attention of other agencies such as the police.”

Michael Northey, the Conservative county councillor for Canterbury South, told the committee that such high concentrations exposed vulnerable children to”dubious” people.

The local authorities at Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Bromley and Surrey place the most children in Kent.

Currently the whole county has 2,660 looked after children with 1,272 coming from outside it.

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