Argy-bargy over Rotherham Council canal boat care placement for girl, 16

ROTHERHAM Council has defended its decision to house a 16-year-old girl in their care on a barge — citing a squeeze on resources against rising numbers of looked-after children.

The girl had been forced to live out of the area due to lack of accommodation in the borough and vented her upset about the unsuitable barge on social media, attracting dozens of shocked comments about the “inappropriate” setting.

A family friend said the situation showed the “state of affairs our system is in and the amount of children who are being failed daily”.

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A council spokesman declined to comment on individual cases but said youngsters often responded well to placements that were a “different experience to living in a traditional home”.

It is understood the girl was immediately rehoused after raising her complaint with social services.

The spokesman said: “Rotherham Council always prioritises the welfare of the children in our care. 

“We work closely with placement providers to check the quality of placements, both in Rotherham and when a placement outside the borough is required.

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“Some placement providers do provide care in settings that give young people a different experience to living in a traditional home, which many young people respond positively to. 

“At a time when there are more children in the care of councils across the country than there has ever been, sometimes the choice of places is severely limited. 

“However, we take the views of the children in our care very seriously and will always do our utmost to make the best possible arrangements for them in a setting where they are happy and settled.”

He added: “Our first preference when placing any child in care is to use Ofsted registered accommodation but, due to the high demand for a finite number of places, there are occasions when no registered provision is available. 

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“When this is the case we seek short-term alternatives, which will always include children being cared for by fully-vetted staff who are trained in providing emergency care for children. 

“All the accommodation we use is assessed by the council to ensure it is suitable and the care of the children is closely monitored.”