A surge in the number of children in care being placed in Thanet by other local authorities has prompted North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale to raise the issue in the House of Commons.
The veteran MP says he has spoken to ministers about the “concerning rise” of youngsters being placed on the isle – with many being more than the recommended maximum of 20 miles from their homes.
During the last year there has been a rise from 193 children placed in Thanet by other authorities in December 2016 to 240 in November this year.
The numbers could be higher as Kent County Council has to rely on outside authorities informing them of the placements when figures are collated – and this does not always occur.
Of the children KCC has been informed about, 87 were from other Kent districts and 32 were within 20 miles of their hometown.
But Sir Roger says there is a worrying increase of youngsters from London boroughs and authorities even further afield.
He said: “Figures from Kent council social services show there was a drop but now this is on the increase again.
“There is growing concern about this and I have taken it up in the Commons and spoken to Ministers.
“This goes back a long way when then-director of social services, Peter Gilroy, carried out the Thanet Report in 2004.”
That report revealed Thanet had “7 times the number of Looked After Children as the most affluent areas of Kent” in 2003/04.
At that time some 35 children’s homes were recorded on the isle – all privately owned- and of the 626 looked after children in Thanet just 276 actually came from the isle.
A county council report some six years later showed a continuing trend of young people in care, particularly those aged between 11 and 17, being placed in Kent and Thanet from London boroughs.
Ten boroughs consistently placed 10% or more of their looked after children in the county.
These were Bexley (28.8%),Greenwich (21.5%),Havering (16.5%), Lewisham (14.3%), Waltham Forest (12.1%), Newham (11.3%), Sutton (11.2%), Hounslow (10.9%), Islington (10.5%), Merton (10.4%) and Bromley (10%).
Sir Roger says Kent has more than sufficient difficulties absorbing a once-again rising number of `looked-after children` for which the London Boroughs have failed to make provision.
He said the impact of this is felt not just by businesses and residents but by the children themselves.
He said: “Unless there is a risk of mental or physical assault young people are better off in their own ‘manor’ than being transferred out of area.
“They have no sense of ownership when they are moved to places like Westgate and Cliftonville, often with social services getting no notification from the boroughs. There is often no provision made for education and health care and there is an additional use of police resources to deal with troubled or missing children.
“It is a subject of concern that has been expressed to me by my constituents. We have our own problems without boroughs sending their cared for children to Thanet when they should be making provision for those children themselves.”
In March a Corporate Parenting Panel meeting at Kent County Council revealed that a member of the panel had lobbied ministers and MPs on the issue of tracing out of authority placements and was also due to raise the issue with Ofsted.
The issue of large numbers of children in care being placed in Kent by other local authorities has also been raised with the Children’s Commissioner for England.