Following the release of the Children's Commissioner's Stability Index, Barnardo's has issued the following statement:
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
"Barnardo’s knows that children who benefit from our loving, stable foster placements have often come from deeply troubled backgrounds and many have suffered neglect and physical or sexual abuse.
The number of looked after children has increased steadily over recent years and our research indicates that the complexity of cases of children in care has also risen.
Sixteen per cent of children referred to us have issues related to child sexual exploitation, 17% were unaccompanied asylum seekers or had been trafficked and 6% indicated harmful sexual behaviour.
It is essential that resources are there to support the foster carers who look after these vulnerable young people to help them avoid multiple placements. It’s also crucial that they are matched with the right family to avoid further instability.
Ongoing professional guidance must be made available as even the most motivated and resilient foster carers need the appropriate support package to help them through challenging circumstances.
As an independent fostering provider Barnardo’s recruits, trains and supports foster carers to care for some of the most vulnerable children."
Barnardo’s is partnering with the CareTech Foundation on a £1 million project to develop a ground-breaking digital resource to support young people leaving care.
Such young people face a variety of challenges as they transition into adulthood, including feeling lonely and finding it hard to make a home for themselves. It is all too easy for them to become isolated and find difficulty accessing available opportunities.
In partnership with the app developer FutureGov and with the support of the CareTech Foundation, Barnardo’s is developing a UK-wide innovative digital resource focused on the needs of care leavers.
It will feature content on:
Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, said:
"We are extremely excited about this partnership with the newly formed CareTech Foundation and their support of our work with young people leaving care.
Barnardo’s has been keeping children safe, supporting them with an education and helping them to achieve their dreams for more than 150 years. Care leavers remain some of the most vulnerable young people in our society with figures showing 40 per cent aged 19-21 are not in education, training or employment.
Barnardo’s hopes to design an app that will help young people to access information in a way that truly works for them, providing immediate access to helpful information and producing data that will help us to evaluate how digital resources can reduce crisis points among young people.
Barnardo’s ambition is to be a digital leader in the sector and so we embrace technology’s potential to drive new ways of delivering better outcomes for more children. We are therefore grateful to the CareTech Foundation for part-funding this innovative project and would urge other funders to come forward to help us improve outcomes for young people leaving care."
The project is expected to last between three and four years. Around 1,000 care leavers will benefit from the digital resource each year, with scope for many more to be supported.
Barnardo’s hopes and expects the new resource will lead to the following outcomes:
As part of the partnership, CareTech staff and service users will be directly involved in the testing and development of the new digital resources. The Foundation will also give opportunities to CareTech staff to volunteer with Barnardo’s.
The CareTech Foundation is donating £300,000 towards the project and hopes other philanthropic organisations will join them to make the project a success.
Barnardo’s has responded to an independent review of the fostering system in England which makes recommendations to the government about improving foster care.
The review by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers, published by the Department of Education today, makes 36 recommendations following a consultation in April and June 2017.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
"We are pleased the report highlights the positive and important role of independent foster agencies, (IFAs), like Barnardo’s in placing vulnerable children in loving stable families.
It’s vital these children have the right foster carer to help them recover from trauma and go on to lead positive futures. This, rather than cost, should always be the primary consideration when placing a child.
While we welcome the idea of a national register of foster carers, we urge the government to consider how IFAs like Barnardo’s can be fully involved in ensuring that the right number of carers with the right skills are on it.
We work with authorities to meet the care needs of vulnerable children, which includes providing support for families so that children can remain with their birth families.
We look forward to working closely with national and local Government on improving foster care for England’s most vulnerable young people, including siblings and disabled children, who are among the harder children to place."
Barnardo's has responded to reports today that a child was referred to children's services every 49 seconds last year.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said:
"The figures highlight the rising demand on children’s services which have insufficient resources. We are working closely with local authorities on preventative strategies that support families to reduce the likelihood of children being taken into care.
However, without enough secure, stable and caring foster families, children in care risk being moved around; placed somewhere that’s not right for them or separated from siblings because there is a need for 7,180 more foster families in the UK.
We need more loving carers to foster children especially those who are older, disabled, are from ethnic minorities, and siblings, as they often struggle to find families.
Fostering can be a life changing, life enriching experience for carers and children. Barnardo's views its relationship with foster carers as a partnership offering continued support, training and advice for as long as it is needed."
Member News: Barnardo’s seeks London hosts with spare room for a vulnerable young person leaving care
New service will help young people make the tricky transition towards independent living in south and east London
Londoners who have a spare room and would like to help a vulnerable young person leaving care are urged to put themselves forward for a Barnardo’s programme launching this week.
The children’s charity will support dozens of young adults through its new London Supported Lodgings Service, which offers short-term accommodation for young people as they leave care.
Hosts are given weekly payments alongside ongoing support, training and guidance from the Barnardo’s team, so they are well equipped to help vulnerable young people as they make the difficult transition from childhood to independent adult life.
The service, based at The Triangle in Coxwell Road, Crystal Palace, supports young people in Southwark, Lambeth, Croydon and Redbridge. Barnardo’s is now looking to recruit hosts who live in each of those boroughs and can offer a safe, supportive and friendly home environment.
Barnardo’s Children’s Service Manager Rajinder Nagra said:
"We urgently need to identify people who live in Southwark, Lambeth, Croydon or Redbridge, have a spare room at home and would like to make a real difference in the life of a young person.
Our supported lodgings hosts receive weekly payments and ongoing training so they’re well equipped to give advice and emotional support to these highly vulnerable young people, who will eventually find safe housing of their own and begin living independently.
This kind of short-term support can transform the lives of young people, enabling them to look forward to a brighter future. If you have a spare room and would like to help then we’d love to hear from you."
Barnardo’s supports applicants through the assessment process to make it as quick and straightforward as possible. Initial and ongoing training and guidance are provided on a range of issues such as substance misuse, mental health and child sexual exploitation, where needed.
To find out more contact Niyah Drummonds, Barnardo’s supported lodgings coordinator, on 07730 025 516 or 0208 771 0907 or email email@example.com
Robert Goodwill's announcement that foster children will be entitled to the same amount of free childcare as other children has been welcomed by Barnardo's.
The Government had announced in September that it was increasing the potential number of free hours of childcare for three and four year olds up to 30 a week, but the flagship policy had contained an exclusion 'if the child is your foster child'.
The announcement by the children and families minister came during a Westminster Hall debate, tabled by the Labour MP Lisa Nandy.
In the debate, Goodwill called the issue “vital” and said that children in foster care “should have access to the same support and opportunities”.
Robert Goodwill said:
"Since it was brought to my attention, I have been looking carefully at the issue of the current exclusion from the 30 hours policy for children in foster care. I have instructed my officials to work up plans to allow children in foster care to take up the additional hours where it is right for the child to do so."
In response to the announcement, Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
"Barnardo’s welcomes the Government’s rethink on childcare provision for foster carers.
As we know from our services, foster carers are often looking after children with significant levels of vulnerability.
Fostered children must have access to the same opportunities as other children. They must not be discriminated against due to their difficult start in life, or the circumstances that brought them into care.
Both carers and children may benefit from this extra childcare, especially where fostering is provided by family members and those providing long-term care.
Placing the needs of the child should be at the heart of all Government policy, and we are glad the Government has made this vital change."
A stark report by the UK’s largest children’s charity, Barnardo’s, reveals the extent of the challenges facing the growing number of children in foster care in England.
An analysis of referrals made by English local authorities to Barnardo’s fostering services last year graphically illustrates the struggles of children and young people needing foster care, many of whom have suffered shocking neglect and physical or sexual abuse.
Of the referrals that were analysed in detail, 16 per cent of the children had been sexually abused, exploited or groomed, 17 per cent were asylum-seekers or had been trafficked and 6 per cent indicated that children had engaged in harmful sexual behaviour.
Many of the children showed the signs of trauma due to past abuse and neglect, including witnessing domestic violence, and understandably had challenging behaviour.
8% of children were referred for a foster care placement more than once during the year.
In the light of these findings, Barnardo’s is calling on Government to prioritise reforms which will make care work much more effective for children and young people with the most complex needs.
Ahead of the National Fostering Stocktake, which will review fostering in England, the report urges the Department for Education to prioritise reforms that will make foster care work for children and young people with the highest needs. These could include re-designing the foster care system to improve matching, support specialist placements, facilitating access to specialist help and improving access to tailored mental health support.
The report also urges local authorities to budget for the additional cost to support children with higher needs. It also calls on them to plan for a wide range of foster carers, to give children more chance of finding a good match with a carer.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said:
"This report on foster referrals makes bleak reading. Sadly it highlights the often traumatic experiences of children who need our foster placements.
We know first-hand from the tireless work of Barnardo’s foster carers that children in care, even those who have experienced the most shocking abuse, can recover with the right help.
But we need to see local authorities prioritising support for these children from day one, with specialist foster care placements and therapeutic support. And through its National Fostering Stocktake, the Government must make sure that it puts the most vulnerable children at the front and centre of future foster care reforms."
Bev Stoakes, from Coventry, has been providing specialist foster care for Barnardo’s for almost nine years. Bev said:
"Many of them have had horrendous experiences. You just have to be there for them – supporting, listening and not judging.
I try to be myself and to treat them like they’re a member of my own family, throwing birthday parties and Christmas dinners which are also attended by my grown-up children and their own families.
For some of them it’s the first time that they feel someone has really listened to them and cared for them, and then they start to really open up about what their life has been like so far. It can be heart-breaking."
Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:
"Councils are committed to providing a care system that works for all vulnerable children, no matter what their individual needs or circumstances may be. Any child in care, including those with high needs, must be able to access the specialist support they need, when they need it.
Children’s services face a £2 billion funding gap by 2020. If nothing is done to address this, crucial services that many children and families across the country desperately rely on will be at risk.
Councils are calling on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to commit to fully funding children’s services so that all children and young people, including those with particularly challenging needs, are able to get the support and protection they need."
The report also warns there is often a lack of information about the children needing a foster care placement, so finding a good match with an available carer can be difficult and slow. Of our sample of 1,482 children referred to Barnardo’s in 2016, there was only sufficient information about why the children had come into care, what their needs were and what kind of foster carers they would require for just 630 children (43 per cent).
Barnardo’s helps find foster homes for children who are considered “harder to place”, including older children, sibling groups, children with physical and or learning disabilities and those who have been trafficked or sexually exploited.
Key highlights from the report:
-Sexual abuse, exploitation or grooming was documented in 16 per cent of the referrals that were analysed in detail.
-Six per cent of cases that were analysed involved children who had been engaged in harmful sexual behaviour.
-Seventeen per cent of referrals that were analysed were for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
-12 per cent of referrals described children showing extreme anger behaviours. Ten per cent of the referrals were for babies and their mothers.
-8 per cent of the children referred in the year had been referred for a foster placement at least once before, due to no placement being found the first time, a placement breaking down, or a child returning home and coming back into care.
Trafficked children need specialist foster care placements to reduce the risk of them going missing or being retrafficked, says Barnardo’s on Anti-Slavery Day.
Child victims of trafficking need specialist foster carers who have the skills and knowledge to help them overcome their trauma and keep them safe from traffickers, says the UK’s leading children’s charity.
Today (Wednesday, October 18) is Anti-Slavery Day which aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.
The UK’s largest children’s charity, which runs the national Counter Trafficking Service, also says it’s vital that professionals working with children can spot the signs of trafficking to keep children safe.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
"Trafficked children are threatened, manipulated and controlled by their traffickers who feed them a web of lies leading them to fear authorities.
It is well known that there is a greater risk of trafficked children going missing from care but too often processes are not put in place to protect children.
The first few weeks after a child has been identified as a potential trafficking victim are often the most crucial time to prevent them being re-trafficked and we need better support for these children.
They need specialist foster care placements where carers understand the risks and can work closely with other agencies to keep children safe."
Trafficked children are some of the most vulnerable in this country. Many children Barnardo’s has supported have been sexually abused, forced to work in nail bars or car washes, or forced to commit crimes, such as cultivating cannabis.
Many trafficked children go missing from care. They often go back to their traffickers out of fear for their families or themselves or because they’re the only person they know. Sometimes children will not realise they are being exploited or have been trafficked and want to return to their traffickers.
Traffickers use emotional and physical abuse to control children. They might lure children in with false promises and once in their power, they threaten them or their families with violence or death. They don’t care about the age of children; Barnardo’s specialist services have supported children and young people aged 0-21.
Barnardo’s National Counter Trafficking Service provides specialist support workers who are the go to people for trafficked children. They help children understand what is happening with social care services, the police and immigration in ways they understand and give them tools to stay safe.
Barnardo’s also says that professionals working with children have different levels of understanding about trafficking, with some not knowing what the signs are and therefore aren’t always able to keep them safe - it’s important they get specialist training to understand the issue.
Jeremy Corbyn took time out from his party’s conference to start making pizzas with a care leaver who is being supported by Barnardo’s.
As the pair chopped their vegetables, the Labour leader listened as care leaver Tyrone explained how the UK’s largest children’s charity is helping him get his life on track.
The 20-year-old talked about how he used to be in foster care and introduced Corbyn to Matt and Jude, his lodging hosts in the Barnardo’s supported lodging service.
With their help he is learning to live more independently by learning essential life skills and has secured a weekend job in a café.
"It's been great meeting Jeremy Corbyn. It's good to know that someone who has such influence cares."
The Barnardo's supported lodging providers have given me so much and allowed me to focus on my future.
Living with Jude and Matt feels like home now. I feel very happy here."
Barnardo's Chief Executive Javed Khan accompanied the party's leader on the visit and explained how the charity supports more than 272,000 children, young people, parents and carers like Tyrone to have fulfilling lives.
Javed Khan said:
"I am delighted Jeremy Corbyn was able to find time in his busy conference schedule to hear how Barnardo’s supports the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people.
We strive to transform their lives so they can lead positive futures and I think this really hit home for the Labour leader when he spoke to Tyrone, who is an inspirational young man."
Young people leaving care have often had difficult and troubled starts in life, so it’s vital they receive the support they so desperately need to enable them to achieve their dreams."
The Brighton and Hove Supported Lodgings service was started in 2015 with the aim of supporting young people who may be homeless or leaving the care system. Together with Barnardo’s, hosts offer a room in their home to help each vulnerable young person make a smooth transition into independent living.
Barnardo’s are looking for individuals or families to open their doors and provide safe and secure homes for 16 to 21 year-olds. Hosts receive round-the-clock assistance, a dedicated key worker, a comprehensive training programme and an allowance of £150 per week.
Hosts come from a variety of backgrounds. Some work full-time, some work part-time and some are retired. All have spare time to offer emotional care and practical advice to help a young person build their confidence.
For more information about becoming a Supported Lodgings host, call 01273 412010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We don’t need more demonising headlines about fostering, we need more foster carers, says Javed Khan of Barnardo’s, while Mike Stein points out that with proper support fostered children make good progress from poor starting points
Dawn Foster is, sadly, right when she writes that fostering tends to appear in the news for negative reasons (It’s hard enough as a foster child without being demonised, Opinion, 21 September).
When a troubled young person falls into the justice system, the implication is sometimes made that fostering could be part of the cause. What is forgotten is that these young people have often already suffered trauma or been at risk of harm – which is precisely why they need fostering.
Foster children are vulnerable, and can be challenging, but with the right support they can have fulfilling and positive futures. However, there are 81,000 children in care in the UK, and not enough foster carers to look after them. Without enough loving homes these children risk being moved around. Barnardo’s recruits foster carers for teenagers, disabled children, siblings and children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. But we urgently need more to come forward.
We view our relationship with our carers as a partnership, offering continued support, training and advice for as long as it is needed.
Our foster carers are amazing people. They open up their hearts and homes to children who have often had a tough start in life. We see first-hand how the support of a stable, caring family really can transform children’s lives.
• Dawn Foster is right to argue that the foster care system should not be dismissed in light of events at Tower Hamlets or the Parsons Green arrests. There is robust evidence from studies that where young people are provided with stability and opportunities for attachment, helped to overcome educational deficits, leave care at a similar age as young people leave home in the general population, and are provided with personal and practical assistance into adulthood, they make good progress from very poor starting points. When local authorities fail to respond to these challenges they let both foster carers and the young people they care for down.
Emeritus professor, University of York
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