The Government is spending £300 million a year as a result of the breakdown of children's return home from care, according to new research commissioned by the NSPCC.
By contrast, improving support for these children when they return home would cost an estimated £56 million, research carried out by the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University has shown.
Every year more than 10,000 children are returned home from care. Although this can be the best outcome, research shows that almost half of reunifications break down, resulting in children returning to care. In far too many cases, children are not provided with the support they need to remain safely at home - an issue which needs to be urgently addressed.
"Given around half of children who return home from care end up going back into care again, the support we provide to these families urgently needs rethinking,” explained Tom Rahilly, head of looked after children at the NSPCC.
"Repeatedly moving in and out of care can profoundly damage our most vulnerable children, compounding and intensifying the traumatic experiences and difficulties they face. It is clear that there are gaps in services to help to tackle drug or alcohol problems, mental health provision and parenting support,” he added.
"By addressing these issues and providing social workers and other services with a clear framework to use when planning the support needs of both the child and their family after a period of time in care, we can ensure that more successful reunifications take place in the future and we hope the report will help local authorities in planning for this," he concluded.
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