In 2021, there were 2,462 children’s homes in the UK; a whopping 11% increase from the year before. This trend is no different to any other year, replicating the same fact that the demand for children’s homes is on the rise. Concerning ‘secure’ children’s homes alone, 25 children are waiting each day for a place. Somewhere to call home, something deemed as ordinary for the most of us, is an out of reach reality for many children in care.
The need of children homes
Housing 12,732 children in 2021, the need for children’s homes is obvious. Children in care have lots of different backgrounds, with many experiencing neglect, trauma and instability.
Often, children end up in homes for a multitude of reasons.
However, despite the reason why you’re there, residential homes are well equipped to deal with a range of complex needs and difficulties. Coming out of turbulent backgrounds and upbringings, the sad truth is many children are left with stress and troubles. Residential homes can be considered the best place to be for these children. Equipped with teams of highly skilled staff who have required training, children and young people are offered the resources, skills and nurture to work through issues.
There is no underestimating the need for these homes and their part in improving the lives of children in care… so what is stopping there from being more?
The reality of the rising demand
The whole UK is suffering from the national issue of recruitment and, the social care sector hasn’t been missed out. With a shortage of staff, the ability to open as many homes to fill the need is optimistic. When working with vulnerable people, staff need to be sufficiently trained for safeguarding purposes. These young people have specific needs which not ‘just anyone’ can tend to. Continuously, it’s without a doubt that this could be a difficult job, impacting emotionally on staff. With staff turnover of children home staff being the highest since being recorded it’s evident that the emotional impact is a strong one.
Furthermore, the increased demand has led to an increase in children having to move away from their local areas. For a child whose everyday life is already being disturbed by packing up and moving homes, the stress that’s brought by starting a new school, having to meet new people and navigating a new area is one that they could do without. Yet with the long waiting lists and daunting demand, the luxury to pick and choose is not one children get. This also results in children being put into homes they may not be suited to, taking up a place that someone else would be perfect for and missing out on getting their needs best met.
Who is helping?
The government has made a statement claiming vulnerable children will be better supported by a fundamental shift in social care services. Focus has been placed on tackling issues early on, with the hope to reduce the number of children having to go through the system. However, the method misses those already going through the care system, allowing the demand to continue building for the foreseeable future, so tackling the current demand is still a relevant issue. Social services continue to help vulnerable children in care day in, day out. With the safety of children coming first, they do everything in their power to ensure children are placed into the most appropriate homes and families.
There are many committed organisations and groups who have noticed the problem and contribute to making positive change. The children’s charity Action for Children fundraise and work to give children and young people safe and nurturing homes across the UK. Specialised in supporting children with complex trauma, they continue to open small family style homes which tailor to each child’s individual needs.
How can you help?
You too can be a part of making a difference and changing lives. Donating to a charity that supports children in care aids them to continue doing make the changes they are. Whether its 50p or £50, your contribution is highly valuable and appreciated by those who the organisation helps.
Did you know donations don’t have to be just money? Old clothes, toys and electronics can be donated too. And don’t ignore the value of a listening ear, support is given in many ways and a simple ‘how are you today’ could brighten someone’s day.