A consultation published by the Children’s Commissioner on 7 December looks at some of the experiences children in care have had, and outlines improvements those children would like to see inside the care system.
The organisation carried out the consultation in response to the Conservative government’s pledge to launch a complete review of the care system, during the last general election.
The consultation asked children what the system was ‘doing right’ and what needed to change, and identified eight central themes which emerged from interviews carried out with care experienced children.
Those themes were carers, family, professionals, support, freedom, choice, stability and attitudes. Positive experiences have been published in blue, while negative experiences have been highlighted in red.
The 19 page document does not really offer anything new, but serves as a good reminder to the government that children in care have very clearly defined needs, which are required in law to be met, both from a developmental and human rights-driven perspective.
The publication includes a significant number of quotes from children, including the desire to be able to choose their social workers and have more control over how their private data is shared. These are two very important points which touch upon several areas in children’s social care, not least of all the ongoing breaches of privacy they suffer during the ‘advertising process’ where children’s names and locations are shared online for the world to see, in order to match them with carers.
There are some important observations about the way the system matches carers to children, too, such as the concern that very little effort appears to be made when carers are allocated children, leaving children feeling as if a robot has managed the process. This is of course, completely unacceptable.
One child also asked to have in-depth information about the carers they are sent to live with, much in the same way carers get information packs about the children. Researching Reform thinks this is an excellent idea.
Another child describes being ‘lucky’, because he or she only had to move from a placement once. That quote, which was placed in the ‘positive’ section (blue text) of the report, is telling, and deeply embarrassing for all key stakeholders inside the system, highlighting as it does the poor levels of care these children are experiencing.
This report is a must-read for anyone working inside the care system, as the quotes shared by the children shine a powerful, and very precise light on what needs to change.