The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers is calling for a clearer definition of what care is aiming to achieve. The group wants a statement in law defining the principal aim of the care system for those children who spend a significant time in care, as promoting psychological healing from past harm, building resilience and achieving wellbeing.
In order to achieve this change a new framework is required to measure how all children and young people are coping in care which can be used to hold local authorities to account.
‘A new vision’ is published at a time when the care system continues to fail too many children, despite the evidence that care can be the right option and can provide the security, stability and love that children need.
The Alliance is also calling for:
Greater support and training for primary carers and key workers in children’s homes – so they can help children overcome past experiences and build positive relationships.
Mechanisms for assessing the quality of care from the child’s perspective – and accountability when a placement doesn’t work for them.
Measurement of children’s wellbeing and progress throughout their care experience – rather than one-off outcomes, so we understand when children are doing well and when they need more support.
Care that meets the day-to-day emotional needs of children – but with timely access to specialist mental health support if needed.
Continued support when young people leave care – so they are not expected to become independent earlier than their peers.
Enver Solomon, Director of Evidence and Impact at the National Children’s Bureau and co-director of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers said:
“The care system is not just about removing children from harmful situations and putting a roof over their heads. Many children in care have been seriously abused or neglected, and rely on local authorities as corporate parents to help them get back on their feet. Ultimately, the care system should help children overcome their past experience and forge the lasting and positive relationships that we know are vital to their future wellbeing.”
Emma Smale, Head of Policy and Research at Action and co-director of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers said:
“Care is the right option for many children and young people. It can provide them with the love and warmth that they need to have happy and secure childhoods.
“But, despite the collective efforts of national and local government, the focus on the best outcomes for children has been lost.
“The impact of traumatic experiences like severe neglect and family breakdown is enduring. Yet too many young people say that the reasons they come into care are not addressed. It is time to renew our efforts for children in care and care leavers.”
The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers’ ‘A new vision’ is available at https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/resources-and-publications/reports/alliance-for-children-in-care/
A Young people’s version is also available.
The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers is comprised of:
A National Voice
Action for Children
British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)
British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
Family Rights Group
Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma
National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NAIRO)
National Children’s Bureau (NCB)
National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS)
Office of the Children’s Commissioner
The Care Leavers’ Association
The Children’s Society
The Fostering Network
The Prince’s Trust
The Who Cares? Trust