Children’s social care

"They took me into their family home and were like we’re going to treat you as a normal kid, so you don’t need to kick off. It’s a normal family home, I don’t see it as my foster home. I see it as my home, my parents" - Girl, age not given.

Children’s social care is a core pillar of my work as Children’s Commissioner following ‘The Big Ask’, which was the largest-ever survey of children. This survey demonstrated that children in care want the same security and stability, of home, relationships and education, as other children. Children explained that they want the care system to provide them with a supportive foundation to achieve their goals, and to set them up for happy, healthy lives, in which they can thrive, as well as strong relationships with the grown-ups in their lives that last into adulthood.

Children in care and those receiving support from children’s social care share the same hopes and aspirations as their peers. Some children told me about care they received from foster carers, social workers, adoptive parents and other professionals, which they were really grateful for.  They also told me though about some of the bureaucratic processes which they found frustrating or alienating. Among children in care aged 9—17, the majority (63%) said they are happy with their life, and 68% said they are happy with their family life.

As one child said, “they took me into their family home and were like we’re going to treat you as a normal kid, so you don’t need to kick off. It’s a normal family home, I don’t see it as my foster home. I see it as my home, my parents” – Girl, age not given.

My work within this pillar will focus on raising the ambition we have as a society for children growing up in care, including for the support they receive from everyone around them. In January, I published my vision for the children’s social care system, Putting Children’s Voices at the Heart of Reform, which set out some practical ways, based on what children have told me, we could improve the system of support. I also set out a new approach for how services could be delivered in a child centred way. To support this, I am working on an outcomes framework for all professionals working with children so that everyone is relentlessly focussed on children’s outcomes and experiences, as well as a project on how to promote and facilitate data sharing.

Help at Hand

My Help at Hand advice and assistance service for children in care and the very vulnerable continues to grow, responding to over 1,200 enquiries last year. Among the typical cases my office resolved were helping a care leaver whose local authority needed support to secure her immigration status, unlocking educational support for a child with an Education Health and Care Plan so that he could receive support at home and keeping two teenage sisters with the foster family they loved.

Help at Hand also helped homeless teenagers find somewhere to call home, children not in education access the school place they needed, and young offenders leaving secure units with the transition back into their communities. Some of these cases reach me by children contacting my office directly for help, and other times this ask comes via their advocate or parent, and in all cases I focus relentlessly on making sure they receive the support need. The cases that come to me inform my wider priorities and help sharpen the focus of our policy and evidence work.


IMO is my digital offer for children in care and care leavers. It is a unique, peer-led website, which serves as a meeting point for children in the care system and care leavers. Somewhere that they share stories, experiences, and achievements, get and give advice, and gain access to career advice, training opportunities and content competition prizes.

Children's Social Care - putting children's voices at the heart of the reform

We published our vision paper on children’s social care ‘putting children’s voices at the heart of reform’. The paper outlines a vision for reform based around four key experiences we believe are the foundation of good experiences, and good outcomes, for both children in care and families in contact with social care.

Reforming children’s homes: a policy plan of action

This policy paper highlights the seven core expectations that we as professionals and leaders should meet for every child in a children’s homes. These include: ensuring that children in need of a home should be able to find a placement close to their existing home or community; that every child should be able to trust that their children’s home place will be theirs as long as they need it; that every home should be giving children the ability to develop and pursue their interests; and that every child in a home should be heard, seen and safe.

Vision for care leavers

I have outlined my ambitious vision for care leavers which shares how we can work together to provide wrap around support for care leavers in every aspect of their lives. Care leavers have told me that the thought of their 18th birthday can fill them with fear rather than excitement, as they face a cliff edge of care falling away. I want to make sure that every care leaver can instead turn 18 filled with confidence that they will be loved, cared for and supported.

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