Little is known about the characteristics of children with disabilities who meet the British legal definition of ‘looked-after’ children. Data were obtained on 108 such children living within one geographical area in Northern Ireland and who spent 90 days or more in a twelve month period living away from the family home. However this figure may under-estimate the numbers given the difficulties in tracking children aged over 14 years who were admitted to Hospitals on a short or long-term basis. The median age of the children was 14 years; most had learning disabilities allied with challenging behaviours, communication difficulties, autism and some were technologically dependent. Many of their families experienced a range of problems. One third of the children were accommodated in various residential settings but half of these placements were in hospital or adult residential accommodation. However there were marked differences in the services provided to this client group by the four provider agencies. Future service needs included increased respite breaks for families and the provision of both more residential placements and more appropriate accommodation especially for teenagers. The dilemmas in reconciling the need for local but specialised service provision are discussed.
|Journal||British Journal of Social Work|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2004|