Bolton Council aims to create a number of children's care homes as it bids to remain as one of the best across the country for keeping those in its care close to home.

The borough is in search of a partner to provide three care homes by 2026, another three care homes within six years and another three care homes within 10 years.

Currently, according to data obtained by charity Become, Bolton Council is one of the best across the country for keeping those in its care close to home with one of the lowest rates of youngsters sent more than 20 miles from home. This is believed to be beneficial to a child unless the child is at risk as a result of abuse or exploitation.

The borough is in the top five alongside the other Greater Manchester authorities of Salford and Trafford and the North East authorities of North Tyneside and Stockton-on-Tees.

In a bid to remain at the top of the table this month cabinet member for children's services Martin Donaghy approved the start of a search for a partner to provide these children's care homes, which are set to cover all areas of the borough, and are set to include at least one facility for those with behavioural difficulties or emotional difficulties.

The pressure on the system is set to rise due to an increase in demand, with the North West accounting for around a quarter of all children in care nationwide, and due to a decrease in the number of fosterers to take children in care out of the system and into their own homes.

Cllr Donaghy said: "We always aim to work constructively with families and to address potential problems early before they develop into long-term issues. However, in some circumstances, it will be necessary to take children into care.

"When this happens, our priority is to keep children within Bolton or within Greater Manchester.

"Unfortunately, due to a number of challenges faced by many councils, this is not always possible.

"This report sets out our plan to address these challenges, so as many children as possible can stay in their local community and receive the support they need in a familiar environment.”

Bolton is one of 27 authorities to receive a slice of £27m to to help young people leaving care with accommodation, resources and practical and emotional support.

The Government has also launched a consultation for feedback standards to improve advocacy provision for children in care and care leavers and to address gaps and barriers to services “to ensure all voices are heard”, the department said.

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.