Today, The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, co-chaired by NYAS and the Care Leavers’ Association,has written to the Department for Education. In this letter, The Alliance has identified priorities for the UK Government following the final recommendations of the independent social care review.
Who Are The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers?
The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers is a coalition of third-sector organisations supporting care-experienced children and young people across England.
Collectively, all organisations within The Alliance are calling for a care system which promotes resilience and emotional wellbeing by helping children and young people to recover from past harm.
As part of the alliance, NYAS and the other organisations involved want to ensure that every single child has the best possible chance to recover from trauma and realise their full potential.
What Does the Letter to the UK Government Say?
Today, The Alliance has sent a letter to the new Minister for Children and Families, Brendan Clarke-Smith MP. The letter highlights the Alliance’s key priorities for the UK Government as they consider their response to the care review.
The letter also calls for the third sector to be represented on the national implementation board that is being set up to advise on the next steps following the care review. Third sector organisations should also be included in any other steering groups that will be working to support the government’s implementation and response to the review.
What Priorities Have The Alliance Identified Following the Independent Care Review?
The Alliance has set out eight area that they beleive should be prioritised when the UK Government begin to implement recommendations from the care review. These eight priorities are:
- Rights: A Child Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) must be conducted for the Government Implementation Plan.
- Voice: Children’s meaningful and effective participation must be sustained through the implementation of the review’s recommendations and beyond. There should be clear government plans in place to guarantee this.
- Corporate Parenting Responsibilities: All public bodies to have a duty to support care experienced young people, co-produce an action plan, and be scrutinised as part of Ofsted inspections.
- Mental Health: All children and young people receiving any tier of mental health support services should have an opt-out offer of independent advocacy. There must be increased emotional wellbeing support and dedicated ‘care experience aware’ & trauma informed mental health support for children in care & care leavers. This should be agreed with Integrated Care Systems and outlined in local offers.
- Homelessness: Extend ‘priority need’ up to the age of 25 for care leavers who become homeless.
- Regulation: Make it law that every looked after child receives care where they live until they are 18. Protect the safeguards and integrity of residential children’s homes, including the continuation of regulation 44 visits.
Independent Reviewing Officers: Retain the IRO role. While there is room for improvement in the IRO service, particularly in making them truly independent of local authorities, the removal of IROs would be a dangerous erosion of the rights of children in care and a threat to their welfare. The IRO role cannot be replaced by advocates as their functions and purpose are fundamentally different.
- No-one left behind: Make sure that specific groups of children in care are care leavers’ needs are addressed. This includes unaccompanied asylum-seeking children; children with unresolved immigration or citizenship issues; young parents; those in custody; those in the LGBTQ+ community; children and young people with disabilities and those living out of area.
The Alliance looks forward to the government’s response. NYAS, alongside the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, will continue to champion the voices of children and young people in these important decisions that will affect their lives.