Charity calls for new national care service for children and care experienced people

A leading fostering charity has published a paper urging the Review of Children’s Social Care to recommend that the Department for Education establish a ground-breaking new national care service.

16/09/21

Charity calls for new national care service for children and care experienced people

The proposed ‘National Care Family’ would cover fostering, adoption, kinship, residential, foster, and secure care – and take over responsibility for children who return to their birth parents from care and the secure youth justice estate.

The creation of an exclusive dedicated body will mean that Local Authorities (LAs) will no longer hold parental or operational responsibility for children in public care.

In addition to the existing support given to children in the care system, the proposed National Care Family would perform new duties such as supporting birth parents whose children return to them from care and assisting care-experienced adults. Under the suggestion, being care experienced would also become a protected characteristic with an automatic entitlement to lifelong support.

The charity says it is an “inescapable fact” that when children in care are compared with children in the general population, they tend to have significantly poorer outcomes in several areas, such as educational attainment, and mental and physical health.

Children and young people who grow up in care are up to four times more likely to suffer from poor health 30 years later than those who grew up with their parents. Care experienced people are also estimated to represent between 24% and 27% of the adult prison population, despite being less than 5% of the overall population.

“All children in care, or in families created through social services’ intervention, require a Service that is dedicated to them and their families,” Andy Elvin, TACT CEO, said. “Local authorities will never be able to prioritise this group lifelong. If we merely try to re-purpose the current systems/structures, we will simply get more of what we already have. The solution has to be a wholly different place, not a reformulation of what we currently have.”

The paper provides a vision for the new service; however TACT says that the new service must be co-designed and co-produced by those whose lives it aims to transform. They add that the detailed design and creation of such a service should be shaped by those experts by experience who can best inform this process, and those within the current system who accept and embrace the need for radical change.

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