One in twenty children regularly feel unsafe in their social care setting

Ofsted's annual children’s social care survey finds that 96% of children say they feel safe ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’, meaning that nearly 1 in 20 children regularly feel unsafe where they live or stay.

23/06/21

One in twenty children regularly feel unsafe in their social care setting

Ofsted has published its latest children’s social care survey results exploring the views of children in residential care and living away from home, and those of their carers.

The survey attracted a record 49,000 responses, with over 7,000 responses from children.

Ofsted uses the responses, along with previous inspection findings or concerns they receive, to decide when to inspect and what to focus on.

The survey, for the second time, asked children if they felt safe where they live or stay. Over 95% of children said that they felt safe ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’. Ofsted says, while positive, this means that nearly 1 in 20 children regularly feel unsafe where they live or stay.

Ninety-nine percent of children in foster care who responded to the survey said they felt safe where they live ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’, however 6% of children in children’s homes regularly felt unsafe and one in a hundred said they ‘never’ felt safe.

Asked whether they felt well cared for, 95% of children in children’s homes and 98% of those staying with foster carers answered either ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’.

However, for boarding schools, this was 90% of children, and for residential further education accommodation it was 92%, with one in a hundred saying they ‘never’ felt well cared for.

There are currently 12 million children aged between 0–17 years in England with 80,080 living in children’s social care settings. Nearly three quarters (72%) of children looked after live with foster carers.

This year’s survey also asked children about their experiences of the pandemic and how they felt about the care they were given. A lot of children said that they would like COVID-19 to ‘go away’, but they also said that they had been helped to adjust to the restrictions by the people who cared for them, Ofsted says.

While many children had been able to keep in contact with their families either in person or through phone or video calls, a small number of children in the survey expressed unhappiness at not being able to see their families.

Some parents, responding to the survey, said that they had no or little face-to-face contact with their child because of the restrictions, citing distance of the home from where the parents lived, restrictions on travel, and the place children were staying having restrictions on visitors.

Ofsted also said it noticed a theme of children frequently expressing that they wished they could stay where they were for longer and that they would not have to move on when they were 18.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said that it is important to know how children and young people feel, but acknowledged there was room for improvement.

“These surveys are really important, and I want to thank everyone who gave us their views. It’s important to know how children and young people feel about those who support them, and brilliant to see that so many children are happy where they live and with the care that they receive,” Stanley said, adding: “There is always room for improvement though. We will use this feedback to help us focus our inspections on the things that matter to children.”

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