As the Care Review in England enters its final months, organisations and individuals have been invited to submit ideas that could become the review’s recommendations for improving children’s social care.

Throughout 2021, the Care Review has been looking into the challenges faced by children and families when engaging with children’s social care– with the aim of making sure children and young people get the support they need, when they need it. Here at NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service), we have shared a dozen ways in which care-experienced children and young people could be better protected, supported and nurtured:

  1. Rights

    The care review should uphold the principles and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) through its working methods, analytical framework, and proposals for change.

  2. Advocacy Active Offer

    Create an ‘active (opt-out) offer’ of independent advocacy where all care-experienced children and young people are made aware of advocacy services and connected with an advocate at key stages in their lives.

  3. Mental Health Advocacy

    All children and young people receiving any tier of mental health support services should have an ‘active (opt-out) offer’ of independent advocacy.

  4. Personal Advisor Mental Health Support

    Every personal advisor should have a key performance indicator to prioritise support for young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

  5. Treating Trauma

    Every care-experienced child and young person must have timely access to evidence-based support and understanding for trauma-related mental health needs.

  6. Positive Childhood Experiences

    Create statutory guidance for professionals and carers on Positive Childhood Experiences.

  7. Unregulated Accommodation

    Ban the use of unregulated accommodation and guarantee care for all children in care up to the age of 18.

  8. Binbags

    End the use of binbags for children and young people’s belongings when moving home in care.

  9. Independent Visitor Offer

    The Department for Education to create and endorse a set of national standards for the provision of IV (Independent Visitors) services, with the support of the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN).  This will contribute to consistently high-quality IV provision through improved commissioning, service development, delivery, and inspection (through incorporation of the Standards into Ofsted inspection regimes) of IV services as a statutory duty of local authorities.

    Statutory duty to be placed upon local authorities to publish their IV offer and ensure all care-experienced children and young people are aware of their legal entitlement to an IV on the basis of choice and best interests.

    Review and amend legislation to extend statutory entitlement to IVs to care leavers up to the age of 25 years, in line with the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

  10. Higher Education Corporate Parenting

    Extend corporate parenting responsibilities to higher education institutions.

  11. Age of Criminal Responsibility

    Raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 12 years old.

  12. Out of Area

    No child should be forced to live ‘out of area’ unless it is in their best interests, and their wishes and feelings have been considered.

Click here to read NYAS’ full submission.

NYAS also supports the submission of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers – a coalition of organisations and individuals working to support children in care and care leavers. The Alliance is co-chaired by NYAS’ Director of Policy and Research, Ben Twomey, and has focused on rights, mental health advocacy, homelessness and unregulated accommodation.

The review is due to conclude in Spring 2022, with recommendations to the UK Government for improving children’s social care across England. NYAS will continue to work with the review team, to make sure children and young people’s voices are heard.