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In The Big Ask, children in care and those receiving support from children’s social care told me they share the same hopes and dreams as their peers. Some told me how grateful they were for the care they received from foster carers, social workers, adoptive parents and other professionals.  But many also told me about some of the bureaucratic processes they found frustrating or alienating.

Among children in care aged 9 to 17, the majority (63%) said they are happy with their life.

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,
The Big Ask.

My work so far…

Dame Rachel de Souza with students

Social care reform

I’ve shared my vision paper for the children’s social care system. This shares how to better support families to stay together safely, a strong focus on improving stability for those children who are taken in care, more high-quality foster care and children’s homes, and no child growing up in an institution. 

I have laid out a policy plan of action for reforming children’s homes which highlights the seven core expectations that we as professionals and leaders should meet for every child in a children’s homes.

help and hand illustrations

Help at Hand

My advice and assistance service for children who are in or leaving care – conducted a review from the views of almost 70 children and families who use it. It has led to a significant rise in cases since September.

Girl looking at phone


Is a site dedicated to providing a meeting point for children in the care system or leaving care, and continues to provide career advice, training opportunities and competitions, as well as an award-winning podcast series set up at the end of 2021.

girl sitting on chair looking at an ipad

Care leavers

In Care Leavers Week (October 2022) I set out my vision for care leavers to ensure they have access to loving relationships, a stable home and safe community, high quality education, and are supported to take care of their mental and physical health.

I published a practical guide on support available for care leavers, a call to action for business and organisations to pledge support to care leavers and a summary of the care leavers my Help at Hand team has supported.

Dame Rachel de Souza standing with mother and child in hostpital

Kinship care

I published a resource in Kinship Care Week (October 2022) developed with Kinship Carers Liverpool to help raise awareness about kinship care.

I also published a blog post highlighting some of the reflections we heard from kinship carers at a support group that my team attended for the Family Review.

In November I presented to the Kinship Care All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) about the findings from the Family Review on the important role that kinship care can play in children’s lives.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

As Children’s Commissioner, I have a statutory duty to promote and protect the rights of all children, with particular responsibility for children living away from home, which extends to those arriving in the UK seeking asylum.

I have previously expressed my concerns about the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill, and have written to the Home Secretary on several occasions – including most recently to request data under my statutory powers from the Home Office about all children aged 17 of younger seeking asylum in the UK who have been housed in hotels at least for one night.

I have also published two briefings for MPs, setting out my priorities for amendments.

Dame Rachel de Souza speaking whilst holding a cup of coffee

Speeches and advisory boards

I spoke at a roundtable on the findings from phase 1 of the review released by the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel into abuse and neglect to children living in three private residential settings located in Doncaster, published in October 2022.

I am a panellist at a roundtable organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for children focused on the implementation of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care and specifically on the theme of strengthening families and re-balancing the system towards early intervention.

Dame Rachel de Souza speaking with three students and their teacher

I gave a speech to the National Children and Adult Services Conferences about the findings from my Family Review and the protective nature of family on 2 November 2022, and at the County Council Network conference later that same month. 

I have written on multiple occasions to the Home Secretary regarding accommodation and support for migrant children, seeking assurances about their welfare in Marston Migrant Centre, Kent and in hotels run by the Home Office all over the country.

I sit on the John Lewis Partnership’s advisory group to support care experienced people and the challenges they face in their communities.

I am setting up two new advisory boards: Care experienced and Children’s advisory boards to involve children even more closely in our work, ensuring it reflects their views.

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