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New survey asks sixteen and seventeen-year-olds what care means to them

The #KeepCaringTo18 campaign group launches a call to action for 16 and 17 year-olds living in England.

25/11/22

New survey asks sixteen and seventeen-year-olds what care means to them

A campaign group has launched a new survey to find out what care looks and feels like to 16 and 17 year-olds, to help influence government policy.

#KeepCaringTo18 says the views of all 16 and 17-year-olds are sought no matter where in England they live.

Earlier this year, the Care Review, led by Josh McAlister, recommended that all children in care should receive care where they live by 2025. The campaign group is calling on the government to commit to this immediately, and believes the views and experiences of 16 and 17 year-olds can help make this happen.

Latest figures from the government show that 7,470 16 and 17 year-olds in care (37% of that total age group in care) are living in semi-independent or independent accommodation, including flats, bedsits, hostels and shared houses. In these types of accommodation, teenagers are entitled only to ‘support’, not care where they live.

The government banned the placing of children under the age of 16 in unregulated or semi-independent accommodation in September last year. However, it claims that independent and semi-independent provision can be the right option for some older children, and says it is intended to facilitate supported living for older children developing their independence before they leave the care system.

Rebekah Pierre, a care experienced campaigner who lived in unregulated accommodation as a teenager, paints a different picture of this type of accommodation.

“A little over 10 years ago, I was a vulnerable young person with significant mental health needs, living in a hostel with on/off access to food, electricity, and no one to come home to at the end of the day,” Rebekah said. “I felt unseen, unheard and desperately unsafe living with former adult prisoners. This dire state of affairs continues today and is worse than ever.”

Rebekah added that by spending 10 minutes on the survey, young people have a chance to make a difference: “You can be the voice your peers need to end this disgrace.”

In February this year, a group of care experienced people handed in a petition signed by more than 10,800 care experienced people, social workers, academics, sector professionals, and members of the public calling on the government to extend the ban to those aged 16 and 17.

Children’s rights charity Article 39 says the government has so far taken no steps towards ensuring every child in care receives care and is instead investing over £140 million into introducing standards for accommodation for 16- and 17-year-olds which deliberately omit any requirement to provide care.

Carolyne Willow, Director of Article 39, said: “We know that children and young people are massively committed to fairness and to everyone having their fundamental rights respected. We’re counting on 16 and 17-year-olds everywhere to join this action. We need your voices, energy and compassion to make government listen.”

Lucy Croxton, Campaigns Manager at the Together Trust, noted that there are currently no young people sitting on the Children’s Social Care National Implementation Board.

“It is vital that the government hears from 16- and 17-year-olds about what care means to them.

“Decisions about young people’s futures must not be made without them.”

Complete the brief survey online here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JW7QN6F

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