Over the next few months as we move inexorably towards a general election the ECLCM campaign and it’s supporters have an opportunity to speak to politicians who, by and large have been deafeningly silent on the subject of children in care and specifically those leaving care. Children in Care becomes political news only when something goes badly wrong – the discovery of (yet another) disgraceful story of sexual abuse of children by carers; social workers apparently failing to take children into care with catastrophic consequences; social workers taking children into care unnecessarily – all well trodden media paths that are, in fact almost nothing to do with the children they are just news stories with more than a little impetus being given by the perennial tendency to attack the social work profession. Of course some of these stories are true and poor practice must always be exposed and answered for. But what about poor political practice when it comes to children in care? Such has been the failure of central and local government since at least the 1970’s to address the failings of the care system that surely an exposé will appear soon? Well it hasn’t so far and don’t hold your breath. There has been virtually no improvement in outcomes for UK children in care in those forty something years.
Why should now be any different? Well, in part that depends on you. If you choose to take the opportunity to engage with prospective MP’s and Local Councillors as they canvass your support then you really may be able to make a difference for children in and leaving care.
If you can go to a meeting great or perhaps if someone comes knocking at your door you could ask them some questions which might include the following suggestions:
Do you know how many children in care there are in your constituency/ward?
Do you know how many children there are in care in the UK as a whole?
What will you do for these children?
How will you seek to improve outcomes for children leaving care so that they improve for the first time in 40 years?
Do you believe in equality?
Can you explain why children leaving residential care are not afforded an equal opportunity to stay put (remain in their placements) when children in foster care are?
Have you signed the ECLCM campaign to gain equal rights for children leaving residential care? If not please do so.
We appreciate that the key issues in the forthcoming election will be things like:
The economy – how much better it would be if we didn’t have to pay for so many care leavers to be in prison rather than contributing to the economy?
The NHS – how much money and what resources could be saved if so many care leavers weren’t in adult mental health wards?
Education – How much better would it be if children in care had the same opportunities to go into further education?
This list if not endless could go on for quite some time.
Only politicians can make a difference and you will vote them in or not so it’s you who can make the difference. Please ensure that they are aware of ECLCM and indeed other vehicles for improving the lives of children in care.
We have relatively few politicians following and fewer still supporting our campaign but if they read this blog then they will have plenty of time to get their answers ready for you!
Alternatively you can write to your MP either by t is easy to find your local MP/local councillors contact details. You can use: writetothem.com which is easy to use and lists local MPs/councillors. All you have to do is enter your poscode. Or if you would prefer to post a letter, you can use our template letter which can be downloaded here.
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