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In April 2021 I launched The Big Ask as a national consultation exercise with children across England. I asked them about their lives, their priorities, their worries and their hopes for the future, and children wrote back. The Big Ask was live for 6 weeks and in that time, over 550,000 children completed the survey, making it the largest survey of children ever.

This report, published in collaboration with Coram, explores the findings from over 2,200 responses to The Big Ask from children in care. At times, these responses are related to a comparable survey of children known to be in care, carried out as part of Coram Voice and the Rees Centre, University of Oxford’s Bright Spots programme, Your Life, Your Care, which collected nearly 9,500 responses between 2016-2021, making it the largest survey in England of children known to be in care.

This report brings to light the issues facing children in care which are reflected in our recommendations to improve the experiences of children involved with social care. Every professional that supports children in care and care leavers should have support them in every aspect of their lives and have high aspirations for them. Schools and primary care networks should be better utilised in supporting Local Safeguarding Partnerships and all children in care should be entitled to advocacy services as standard on an opt-out, rather than an opt-in, basis. Finally, and as highlighted in this report, children’s voices should be given emphasis in research. Children are the experts in their own life experiences, and they know best what needs to change to improve the lives of children in England