The Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson MP yesterday launched the Care Leavers Charter. He has written to all Directors of Children’s Services asking them to implement the Charter.
TACT welcomes the Charter as a statement of intent of support for care leavers and hopes local authorities sign up to it. We are particularly pleased to see the last paragraph talks of being a ‘lifelong champion’ for children who have been in care. It is the need for support in accessing essential services and support after leaving care where young people can experience the greatest difficulties
However, the Charter is also limited. In particular:
On the day the Charter was published, the Department for Education (DfE) also published a Care Leavers Data Pack which showed, for example, that the numbers of young people in 2011-12 who were not in education, employment or training had risen from 33 percent in the previous year to 36 percent. This shows how much work needs to be done to give young people moving into independence the best chances.
TACT believes that the whole system of leaving care needs to be reassessed. If the state has intervened in the life of a child to become their parent, then the obligations that flow from that should see support based according to need rather than age. We want to see care leavers who need them given priority access to health and other services on an ongoing basis. Any costs involved will be greatly offset by the societal savings that would follow.
As ministers launch a charter for care leavers, the Fostering Network says it is 'disappointed' no action has been taken to implement a programme that would help young people stay in care until 21
The government has been urged to provide more concrete backing for the Staying Put programme, which offers extended support for young people in care.
The call from the Fostering Network comes as children’s minister Edward Timpson demands local authorities do more to help young people leaving their care.
In a speech to the annual Care Leavers Conference today (Tuesday), Timpson will advocate more use of Staying Put, which enables young people to return to their foster families when they need to, until they turn 21.
However, funding for the programme has not been ring-fenced since the £4.5m pilot scheme ended in March 2011. The pilots ran from 2008 to 2011 in 11 local authorities, including Merton, North Tyneside, and York.
An evaluation of the programme, published in February, found it gave young people greater control over the timing of their transition from care to independence, and offered them the opportunity to experience transitions similar to those of their peers in the general population.
Across England, only 240 young people were covered by Staying Put in 2011-12, up 10 from the previous year.
“We are disappointed that no action has yet been taken to implement the findings as set out in the final report of the Staying Put pilot scheme," said Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network.
"We would welcome the implementation of Staying Put, or a similar scheme, across the UK to help young people have the futures that they deserve."
“The scheme showed that letting young people stay in care post-18 gave them a solid grounding towards the independence that they are often not yet ready to take on. Why should a vulnerable 18-year-old be thrust out into the world to stand alone when their peers have the support and stability of a family behind them?
Earlier this month the Welsh Government launched a consultation about a proposed scheme, called When I am Ready, which would help young people in Wales to stay with their foster carers beyond the age of 18.
Timpson was speaking after a new Charter for Care Leavers was launched by the government and the Care Leavers’ Foundation, to mark National Care Leavers’ Week (24-30 0ctober). The seven-point charter outlines what the government and local authorities should do to be good corporate parents, including listening to and supporting care leavers, and finding them a home.
Tonight we are hosting an event to launch the Department for Education’s Charter for Care Leavers. The Department for Education has produced the charter in association with care leavers, charities and local authorities.
The aims of the charter are to reinforce the Government’s commitment as corporate parent, to remind local authorities of the principles to be guided by when working with care leavers and to raise aspiration and understanding of what care leavers need.
Attending the event
Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie, Parliamentary under secretary of State for Education Edward Timpson MP and Barnardo’s vice president, fashion designer and care leaver Bruce Oldfield OBE will take part in a panel discussion at the launch in Westminster this evening.
They will be joined by care leavers and staff from local authorities, the question and answer session being chaired by Ravi Chandiramani, editor of Children and Young People Now.
How does Barnardo’s support care leavers?
Barnardo’s supports care leavers by actively encouraging the young people at our projects to pursue education, develop basic life skills such as cooking and household budgeting and providing access to relevant financial aid.
Health advice and counselling is also available to enable a successful transition to independent life. Barnardo’s supported lodgings provide care leavers with a place of safety and stability while we help them to secure permanent accommodation.
Anne Marie Carrie, Barnardo’s chief executive, said: The Charter for Care Leavers includes the values and ideals that should lie at the heart of any parental relationship.
Barnardo’s hopes to see professionals who work with care leavers being encouraged and supported to draw on their emotions as well as regulations. The charter can not magic up resources that are unavailable, but it is an essential reminder of how we must think about and treat care leavers.
The lack of consistency of provision for care leavers across local authorities is a grave concern. The current support system is not clear or accessible for young people. Barnardo’s looks forward to seeing an end to care leavers having to fight for what they are entitled to.”
Edward Timpson MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for education said: Care leavers should be treated no differently to any other young person. We should never underestimate the barriers they face. The care system must never forget to listen to their own views about how they want to live their own lives. The charter underlines that they need all the support and respect we can give them.”
Saeed Iqbal, a care leaver supported by Barnardo’s said: It’s all very powerful……now let’s see it happen.”
Bruce Oldfield, Barnardo’s vice president, designer and care leaver said: As someone who was raised in care, I know the difference it makes having someone who believes in you when you’re starting out in the world. It is a tragedy when young people’s lives are thwarted by an abysmally low expectation of what they can achieve.
For too long many children leaving care have had a raw deal, with no one to ease their path into adult life. It’s time to be every bit as ambitious for these young people as we would be for our own children and help make their dreams come true.”
Children in foster care are being bullied and missing out on ‘a full and proper childhood’ because foster carers are not allowed to make day-to-day decisions on issues as simple as a haircut, a new survey claims.The study of more than 1,000 foster carers across the UK by the Fostering Network - entitled Like Everyone Else - found around one in five (17 per cent) cannot decide if a child can get their haircut or allow a child to go on a school trip and a third cannot give permission for a child to stay over with a friend.
Instead foster carers have to ask local authority social workers about such issues, who in turn often require the approval of a senior manager, the Fostering Network said in a statement.
This can lead to ‘unnecessary delays’ meaning fostered children often miss out, and ‘in some cases can be bullied because the decision making process sets them apart from other children’.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive at the Fostering Network, said: ‘We hear far too many examples of children missing out on the essential experiences of childhood because their foster carers are not allowed to make basic decisions. One girl wanted to go on a school trip, but because it took 16 weeks for the local authority to give permission she couldn’t go. That is ridiculous and the system has to change.
‘Local authorities should see delegating more authority to foster carers as a positive step as it will free up time for social workers and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.’
The Fostering Network has called for day-to-day decision making to be automatically delegated to foster carers ‘unless otherwise specified’, and all four UK governments to run programmes to help local authorities to put this into practice.
FtSE Member News: New report published by Action for Children: Flawed support for most vulnerable children creating time bomb for society
New report: Flawed support for most vulnerable children creating time bomb for society
A new report by Action for Children reveals how fundamental flaws in the funding of vital children's services are creating a ticking time bomb for both vulnerable children and UK taxpayers.
The Red Book report is our annual investigation into the real impact of the recession and Government spending decisions on over 46,000 children whom we support in 150 communities across the UK.
The Red Book 2012, published today, highlights that two out of three of the most vulnerable families are struggling with more severe issues than a year ago.
Yet in April just 12 per cent of the planned public spending cuts had taken place - and with dramatic welfare reforms still to be implemented, Action for Children is warning that the situation is only going to get worse.
51 per cent of surveyed staff are reporting increasing demand, which means already-stretched services are being forced to focus on crisis intervention rather than more cost effective preventative measures.
Services' capacities to make a lasting difference to children and families' lives are being further compromised by short-term funding, with 91 per cent operating on contracts that will not outlast the current Spending Review (May 2015).
Action for Children's Chief Executive, Dame Clare Tickell, said, "The Red Book 2012 highlights problems that, while new to individual children and families, have persisted for decades. We are sitting on a ticking time bomb that has the potential for both human and financial repercussions.
"We welcome the coalition government's commitment to early intervention but the current system of short-term, quick-fix funding is simply exacerbating existing need and instability, creating a false economy that could cost society more than £1.3 billion a year.
"As changes to welfare, unemployment and the recession look set to continue, we desperately need a shift from short-term thinking to long-term strategies that put children first and short-term politics second."
To prevent problems escalating for vulnerable children and their families, and a subsequent rise in child protection and care costs, we are calling for the three major parties to work together to:
To find out more about the report and read the stories of the twelve families we have been working with throughout our year-long research, please visit The Red Book 2012 webpage.
Eight Leading Charities Launch an Inquiry Into the Care System in England
This year about 90,000 children and young people in England will spend time being "looked after" by a local authority.
For many children, this will be a brief period while their family sorts out a crisis and then the children return home. For others, it can go on for longer and this can mean that children get cared for in different ways, for some as they grow into adolescence and for others until they become adults.
These different types of care include living with relatives, living with foster carers, being adopted, or living in a residential home with other young people. Sometimes it still ends up with children going back home or to other family members. All these ways of looking after children are part of the English "care system".
The aim of our care system is to support families to help keep children safe and happy, and to make sure that children have a permanent place to grow up in. But, as the learning from practice and the evidence from research develop, is the care system serving our children as well as it should be? The Care Inquiry - a collaboration of eight children's charities with a special interest in all the care options for these children and young people - wants to take stock on this important question.
Together the charities - Adoption UK, British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), Family Rights Group, the Fostering Network, Research in Practice, TACT, The Together Trust and The Who Cares? Trust - are using their expertise and knowledge and that of others in the sector to explore how society can best provide secure and stable homes for our most vulnerable children.
There will be three formal meetings of the Care Inquiry in November, December and January. Those invited to the formal meetings include researchers, local government policy makers, legal experts, service practitioners and managers, and young people and adults who have experience of the care system. Others will be invited to share their views in a variety of ways and can follow the Inquiry's progress @thecareinquiry.
The Care Inquiry will take a fresh look at which children come in and out of the care system, and will explore how they can have the same chances as other children to grow up with a positive sense of their identity and where they belong.
Local authorities make decisions about children in care in different ways. We want to find out more about why this happens and what it means for children and those close to them. We want to check what research studies and other reports have told us in recent years. We want to see what we can learn from the way other countries respond to the needs of children and young people who might not be able to stay at home or go back home from care. We want to get people talking about what they know, what they think, and what they themselves and others close to them can tell us about their own experience of the care system.
Why now? Well, the Government is reviewing different aspects of care, including how children's homes operate, which children get adopted, and what happens to contact with sisters, brothers and other relatives after adoption. There are likely to be changes in the law about these things next year.
The Inquiry aims to find out what more can be done to provide children with a sense that they have a home for life, and will ultimately make recommendations to Government about how the care system can best meet the needs of children and young people in the future.
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