A new scheme could cut down the number of children going missing from care placements in north east London.

New rooms could be made available for children in residential care across the region as both Waltham Forest and Redbridge Councils, alongside seven other authorities, plan to team up over the next three years to jointly secure 35 new rooms for looked-after children.

Children will become more involved in the process that will decide where they go and what best suits them.

It is hoped listening to the young people will reduce the likelihood of them running away from unhappy placements and save them from being exposed to risks such as sexual exploitation and gang involvement.

The project will see each of eight councils pledge £650,000 per year for eight years and is expected to save each authority a substantial amount.

Once all 35 rooms are in use, the scheme could save councils more than £1 million per year and the Department of Education has also pledged funding towards it.

Redbridge Council’s cabinet members will discuss whether or not to join the scheme at a meeting tonight and Waltham Forest Council will debate the issue at its own cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The move also aims to ensure children are placed nearer to their home communities, to give them a better experience.

The current system is known to face problems such as placement instability, variable residential quality and poor value for money and children’s views are often not taken into account when placement decisions are being made.

But children in care and care leavers have been consulted in both Redbridge and Waltham Forest to aid the councils’ decisions on whether or not to join the scheme.

Redbridge Council’s document on the scheme states that children in care often feel that care placement decisions were “done to” them.

The report said: “Young people who are placed outside their community often express feeling of isolation and loneliness as it is difficult to maintain meaningful relationships with their family network, peer group and professional network.

“These feelings can lead young people to go missing from their placement, which raises the risk of criminal and/or sexual exploitation. Such placements, arranged without planning, are often short lived with mixed outcomes.”

The new setup would enable greater flexibility and greater choice for councils involved, as well as the savings incentive.

It is expected that the rooms will be procured from January 2019 and will become available to children in care from April 2019.

Redbridge is currently home to 216 looked after children, from ages 0 to 18 and most of them are in foster care, but for those with more complex needs, sometimes fostering facilities cannot be taken advantage of.

Cllr Elaine Norman, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “There is a shortage of care placements and the cost to local governments has been increasing.

“Young people are in favour of the scheme because they will become part of the partnership and they will be involved in commissioning residential placements for themselves. It will be a three-part co-production between the provider, the local authority and the young person in making a decision about what best suits them.

“I think it will be much of an improvement as the young people will feel more involved and it should hopefully cut down on the number of young people going missing from care placements and the risks associated.

“There are a lot of predators out there and we are trying to tackle those issues.

“It is not just about the money, we are trying to get the best outcome for the young people and this scheme is a step towards that.”

The model is similar to that adopted by Buckinghamshire Council which has saved the authority up to 20 per cent in care costs.