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As Children’s Commissioner, the heart of my role involves listening to children making sure their voices are heard by policymakers and Government – with a particular focus on children and young people with care experience.

When I speak to children in care and care leavers the thing that comes out most strongly is relationships – a few key relationships – whether that be foster parent, a social worker who really stood out, or perhaps a teacher. These relationships can make all the difference. Of course non-professional relationships – with friends, family, foster family and siblings – are also crucial. The ability to build and maintain these relationships is absolutely key for anyone, but while many of us take it for granted, too many children in care I meet have not had that basic right because of upheaval and instability.

This podcast is a conversation I had with care leavers across England who shared their experience of relationships in the care system and what could help develop them.

It covers adjusting to the system, the formal relationships children have to build, sibling relationships including separation, and the importance of communication within these relationships.

Children’s Commissioner for England · Conversations with care leavers: Relationships in the care system

The insights shared provide clear improvements that will help make the care system better for children and I will dedicate my tenure as Children’s Commissioner to achieving this. I will make sure their views inform my Independent Family Review, which will set out a vision for improving services and will be published later this year.

My Help at Hand team is here to support children in care and care leavers on a wide range of issues including housing, financial support, education, and accessing your full leaving care package. Help at Hand offer free independent advice, assistance, and representation. They particularly help with cases where young people’s rights aren’t being met and they getting the support they are entitled to.

My team also run IMO (In My Opinion) a peer-led website which provides a space for teenagers in care and care leavers to come together and share stories, experiences and achievements, and get and give advice. IMO also has a dedicated podcast series of open and honest conversations with care leavers.