Breaking the cycle of disadvantage faced by children in care and ensuring additional support for this vulnerable group was urgently needed – Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commission for England has said.
The Commissioner said improving the long-term outcomes of children in care and care leavers was vital and a top priority for her when she spoke to attendees from children’s charities, local authorities and Government policy makers at her ‘Ambitious for Children’ event on Tuesday, 12 July.
She commented that despite recent improvements, too many children in care still move placements too often or face a ‘revolving door’ of foster care breakdowns – sometimes because they have not received the therapeutic support they need to recover from abuse or neglect.
Analysis of previous survey data of around 1,800 children has indicated over half of young people in care had been moved at least once in the last two years. More than one in ten had experienced more than four placement moves
A new annual Stability Index using new and existing data will scrutinise regional variations of placement moves, analyse trends and make recommendations for improvements.
The Commissioner added that care leavers can feel left adrift without support and too many suffer from high turnover of social workers. Many children in care also say that they are not consulted when decisions are made about them.
Ongoing work with young people aims to improve communication and the quality of contact between children in care and social care staff. This includes a ‘Children’s Pledge’ to be launched in the autumn. The pledge will encourage local authorities to commit to core standards when working with children in their care, including involving and consulting them when important decisions about their futures are being made – such as foster or residential children’s home moves.
An advice and assistance line for children in care and living away from home is being relaunched as Help at Hand. Help at Handis currently being promoted through regional Children in Care Councils, with materials rolled out to every local authority by the end of the year. The Help at Hand number has already been made accessible to children at secure children’s homes, secure trainingcentres and youth offending institutions.
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “Children who are in care will have had some of the biggest challenges as they set out on life but like all children, with love, bespoke support and encouragement they have a bright future ahead of them.
“I want to ensure all children have the opportunities and support they need to flourish.”