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Let's Talk About Children In Care This General Election

01/05/2017 18:06
smartboy10 via Getty Images

Children are not being talked about in the general election debate, because they don't vote.

We cannot continue to allow children to be cast aside and considered a silent group. They are the future of our country and should be engaged with so that they feel their worth in our society, and use that feeling of worth to make positive differences to our communities.

Children living with their birth or adoptive families will have their parents to think about their interests when they are casting their vote. Those families will think about how the policies set out by candidates will impact on them, on their children, and on their future. But what about those children who don't live with their families? Those children who live in the care system under the care of the state?

Of course, those caring for them will be thinking about them when they go to the polls - but we all need to be thinking about them.

We want children to be safe, and to keep children safe, we have the care system. Care is a safety net that protects children who are unable to be cared for by their parents or family, and that is why we should want the care system to be the very best in can be.

And as candidates ask for our votes in the run up to the election, we should be asking what they are going to do, not just for children, but specifically for children in the care system.

It is not enough to just have policies for children - we need policies that work for all children. Children in care are disproportionally represented in the homeless community; in the prison population; in mental health statistics. And they will continue to be until we get care right and until politicians start applying the lens of care to all policies.

Policies for children and young people that divide parties - tuition fees, grammar schools, the way schools are funded - obviously have an impact on children in care and care leavers but they don't go anywhere deep enough to address the underlying issues that children in care face.

Children in care face bigger issues than the type of school they attend - their achievement, or lack of in comparison to their peers, is rooted in bigger issues, like moving to new houses on a regular basis, moving family, and moving school many more times than the average child. It's rooted in teachers not having sufficient training to support this group of children, and virtual school heads not having the power to require an academy to admit a looked after child.

When MPs are elected on 8th June, they will not only be responsible for representing their constituents in Parliament, they will also be taking on the responsibility of making decisions about children who are in the care of the state. They must scrutinise policies and remember that policies must work for all children and that not all children live with their parents. They will also be tasked with creating a future for the country, and for our children.

But it must be a future that works for all children. Not just the children who live with their parents - but also for those for whom the state is their parent.

Don't forget to register to vote.

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