NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) have responded to the ‘Case for Change’ report by England’s Care Review, with views on topics including children’s rights, advocacy, mental health, family court, unregulated accommodation and youth justice.

As a leading children’s rights charity, NYAS calls for the Review to publicly commit to upholding the principles and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). One measure for achieving this will be for the review team to conduct a ‘Children’s Rights Impact Assessment’ of their future findings and recommendations.

It is sadly not uncommon for us to encounter care leavers in England who have grown up as a looked after child and never heard of their right to advocacy. That is why NYAS have been calling for an ‘active offer’ of advocacy, as is the statutory requirement in Wales. This means that when children enter care, or at other key moments in their care journey, they are automatically connected with an independent advocate who explains advocacy and offers their services. With an ‘active offer’, every child is guaranteed to be made aware of their rights and know how to seek advocacy support when they feel like they need it.

The ‘Case for Change’ section on mental health support is limited in its assessment. NYAS urge the care review team to make mental health and wellbeing a top priority. We believe that mental health support must be child-centred and rights-based. NYAS encourage the review team to support our Looked After Minds campaign recommendations, which include helping children and young people to access, understand and navigate mental health services.

The Care 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.

Read our full response.