The first ever conference dedicated specially to children who have experienced the care system has published its report on the event, and it is a must-read for anyone working with children.

The Care Experienced Conference, which is chaired by Ian Dickson, a retired social worker and former Ofsted inspector who grew up in care and now advocates for children’s rights, took place in April and offered 20 workshops touching on a broad range of subjects nominated by care experienced people.

There were 141 care experienced people at the conference ranging from 14 to 82 years old, and attendees came from all walks of life.

The conference also featured outstanding artwork by individuals who have been in care, and many of the pieces are deeply moving. You can see the artwork here.

The conference group has published two documents, one being a summary report on the event and the other being a research report.

We have not had the chance to read the research report yet, but we will as soon as we get the chance. The summary offers quotes about experiences inside the care system shared by people of all ages, and while the sentiments are well known to most of us who have been campaigning to raise awareness around these issues it is wonderful that there is now a conference to represent children inside the system.

Some of the quotes will also be loaded with meaning for some. For example, this one:

“Bin bags.”

This refers to the way in which children’s belongings are ‘packed up’ when they are sent to a placement. They have to carry their possessions around in a plastic bin liner.

The summary also offers a list of the top ten messages delivered at the conference:


Unsurprisingly, the biggest takeaways from the conference were that children in care needed to feel loved, and that the system had failed entirely to provide the nurturing children need.

One of the other important aspects about this summary report is that it includes the names of the core working group for the conference, and the many individuals and organisations who supported the event.

While Researching Reform doesn’t know everyone on those lists, the names we did recognise were all professionals we would call “the good guys” inside the sector, including Ian Dickson, who we have known for some time through the social media platform Twitter.

They are men and women who champion children and believe in pure social work, which places the needs of every child above any other aspect inside the system. These are individuals worth following.

Useful links:

Conference Home Page

Summary Report

Research Report

You can catch Ian on Twitter @IDickson258.

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