Today’s publication of the independent review of children’s social care marks a significant step towards a commitment to improving the lives of thousands of care-experienced children and young people in England.
As a leading practice service provider, we witness firsthand the daily struggles of care-experienced young people – from financial and housing insecurity, to emotional instability and discrimination. At the same time, we also see the immense impact that consistent quality support, delivered with true compassion and expertise, can have on young individualss self-esteem, perspective, and ultimately their whole lives.
The report not only highlights the manifold cracks in the English care system today, but also admits that what this system needs is a “radical reset” that puts the children at the centre with loving relationships, a healing environment, and skilled intensive support wrapped around them.
We recognise the importance laid out in the review to focus on strengthening families and family networks, to create more quality foster homes, and to build robust indicators and accountability into a nationally more coherent system. Simultaneously, we welcome the review’s recommendation of legally recognising care experience as a protected characteristic, a move that’s been called for by the Drive Forward Policy Forum since 2019.
Having enabled thousands of care-experienced young people in London to achieve their full potential through sustainable and fulfilling employment, we celebrate the review’s recognition of employment as a key factor of a good life. We, therefore, fully back its ambition of creating at least 3,500 well-paid jobs and apprenticeships for care leavers each year.
Over the past ten plus years, we’ve worked with over one hundred corporate and public sector partners and trained hundreds of business leaders, line-managers, and employees to better understand and effectively support young people in the workplace to thrive and step into a career of their own choice. Our charity has been a reliable partner to the Civil Service Care Leaver Internship Scheme since the early beginnings and we will continue to support government departments to build on and improve their offer for care-experienced young people across the country. Thus, we are pleased that the report explicitly points to Local Authorities and the NHS when it comes to ring-fencing opportunities for care-experienced young people as we have already been creating such opportunities over the past few years and will be eager to expand this work to empower more young people to create meaningful lives for themselves.
Acknowledging that no review is ever complete or able to satisfy all parties, we are very aware that this is but the beginning of a long and demanding journey that will call for the ongoing commitment of current and future government, practitioners, and lived experience experts alike. We recognise the shortcomings of the report, first and foremost regarding our Care Experienced Policy Forum’s key ask for expert mental health support as part of the care and leaving care offer. They will issue their own response to the review at a later point.
As a frontline organisation committed to improving the lives of care-experienced young people we choose to embrace what we can do now, collaborate and work hard to enable more young people to live fulfilling and meaningful lives. At the same time, we will continue to champion the voices of those with lived experience and support them to fight for the loving and caring system they wish they had had.