‘By the Bridge with Cambian’ attended the APPG for looked-after children and care leavers this week and we wanted to summarise the discussions for you.
Young people in care and care leavers were joined by a variety of professionals including panellists: Sir Martin Narey; a care experienced woman who is now training to be a social worker; Bill Esterson the Chair of Labour Party; Professor David Berridge, who is currently working with Department for Education on a research project for residential care. They were also joined by the Children’s Commissioner and some independent consultants providing evidence.
Abbee McLatchie, Education, Participation and Achievements Manager said:
“The reason Sir Martin was there is because he is leading a review into residential care for young people currently.
“Young people were in the main really concerned about the lack of support post care (at 18) that young people have. There were discussions around the campaign to offer 'Staying Put' for young people up to 21 for residential, like there is for foster care, but some young people were concerned about the risk that this could pose to vulnerable younger children living there.
“There were some young people who were really singing the praises of residential, and felt that this shouldn’t be seen as a last resort or given a lower status than foster care – they felt that it was absolutely the right thing for them at the time and they were grateful to the fantastic staff that had listened to and supported them. Others had had less positive experiences.
“In the main, the thing that most people were concerned about was the lack of resourcing overall, in terms of good quality staffing and very much about when children leave care whether from fostering or residential. Lots of shared experiences that were negative in terms of support, guidance and stability post 18 – and the consensus was this was felt this was down to a lack of financial commitment. Young people were very worried about this.
“The Children’s Commissioner and one of the consultants spoke about how children needed to be more informed and aware of their rights so that these terrible things didn’t happen and there could be more challenges made, and recommended that both the Who Cares Trust advice line and the Children's Commissioner's were utilised to get young people the support to stay where they needed to be.
“The current review and discussions from the meeting will be fed back to the children’s minister and the PM, and the review will also be represented to parliament to inform social policy and potentially new legislative changes that may or may not be recommended.”
Who Cares? Trust advice line is: 020 7017 8901
Children's Commissioner advice line is: 0800 528 0731