NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) has joined forces with hundreds of organisations and independent experts to call for an urgent review of the children’s care system in England.

As an influential voice in the children’s rights sector, NYAS has given its backing to a joint letter, urging the government to make good on its election manifesto promise to review the care system. The open letter, which is addressed to Gavin Williamson MP, the government minister with overall responsibility for children’s social care, says the review should be ambitious in scope, to consider the needs of ‘every child in care today, and long into the future.’

According to signatories, there has been a systematic failure, on the part of the state to properly deliver its responsibilities to children in care. The letter flags a range of concerns, including; insufficient, and geographically incoherent capacity in foster care; rising numbers of children being moved too far from their local areas; children and young people living in unregulated homes and children being moved chaotically to different foster and children’s homes multiple times.

A review is needed, states the letter, to put an end to many thousands of children being harmed by a system intended to protect, nurture and care for them.

NYAS, along with the other signatories, is asking that the review:

• Is commissioned by central government but genuinely independent of it.
• Is framed and led from the outset as being not only non-partisan, but aiming to generate long term (e.g. 30 years) vision and reforms that command genuine cross-party and cross-sector support and commitment.
• Has very broad frames of reference – there should be no aspect of children’s social care that the review cannot consider. The review must also include support and provision for those leaving care and adults who have already left care.
• Must be properly resourced, and given a substantial amount of time rather than being hurried to meet an arbitrary delivery deadline.
• Engages and listens widely, embracing diverse and sometimes conflicting professional and citizen perspectives – throughout placing particular emphasis and value on the expertise and insights of those who have either been in the care of the state or who currently are.
• Builds upon the UK’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and existing research and good practice.

NYAS Head of Policy and Research, Ben Twomey, said, “This government has a chance to make radical changes to the children’s care system, which has been failing too many, for too long. Hundreds of thousands of young lives could be improved by a comprehensive review and overhaul of the system. As an organisation that represents the voice of vulnerable, care-experienced children, NYAS is proud to support this bid for change, and we will continue to campaign until that change happens.”