THE BLOG

Don't Leave Children In Care Behind

02/06/2017 16:26
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The number of young people in care in the UK has soared to a 30 year high of 94,396 - that's 145 for every MP in the House of Commons.

Of course, that rise means the number leaving care is also increasing, many of them having faced unimaginable trauma including abuse and neglect.

First class foster care is vital to help vulnerable young people to flourish, but 7,000 more foster carers are needed in the UK in the next year. That's why it is essential that organisations such as Barnardo's work together to recruit and retain carers into what is an incredibly rewarding role.

Too many children in care in England continue to struggle. Official statistics show more than eight in ten (84%) leave school without five good GCSE's, and 41% of 19 year-old care leavers are not in education, employment or training (NEETS).

Reforms in recent years have recognised the need to do more to support this group of children and young people in England. Changes have been put in place to streamline the adoption process and the Children and Social Work Bill will give care leavers access to a personal advisor until the age of 25 - something Barnardo's has long campaigned for.

But these changes come at a time of funding cuts and financial pressure on local authorities - a situation unlikely to change in the near future.

Whoever is inside No10 on June 9th must ensure that such financial restrictions do not prevent the delivery of reforms to help these disadvantaged children and young people.

The current government has committed to a fostering stocktake and we want this to remain a priority, particularly given the shortage of foster carers.

We know it's these people, who often work with children who have the greatest needs including disabilities or in sibling groups, who can most feel the strain when budgets are cut.
We'll also be looking to the new government to consider what more can be done for children when they leave care.

The previous Government introduced 'Staying Put' arrangements that allowed those in stable foster placement to stay until the age of 21, but the most vulnerable young people often don't benefit because they're not in stable placements.

A young man called Sam had ended up living in a tent before he was helped by one of Barnardo's support workers. After his family relationships and foster placement broke down, he felt like he had nowhere else to go.

We helped Sam to find suitable accommodation and now, at the age of 19, he is doing an apprenticeship and is on his way to achieving his ambition to be a car mechanic.

Sam's story demonstrates why the next Government must do more work to ensure good quality accommodation placements are available for all young people leaving care until they turn 25.
Funding cuts and austerity simply can't be allowed to put vulnerable children and young people like Sam at risk of being left behind.

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