There are plenty of positive stories that happen daily in the children's homes. My recent experience has confirmed that you don't have to look hard to find the good news, it's common. Fun, smiles, caring about each other, laughter, understanding, achievement, progress, all of these things happen every day, the same as in any family anywhere. Being a created family is one way of looking at children's homes.
We need new thinking about the operating environment we currently frame as a 'marketplace'. We need a courageous, informed articulation of what is happening now, and the start of the thinking that can move us towards a method of effective working, both for quality of care and the health of our finances.
I am awed by the inspirational carers who give a home to children who have often suffered so much and find the courage and empathy to give joy to young lives. The capacity to love, sheer generosity and genuine interest in caring for children that I have seen has given me hope that there are more people out there who care about those children who have no one.
Young people leaving care are one of the most vulnerable groups in society, more likely to become homeless, be unemployed and spend time in prison. Some will have been subject to abuse or neglect, and as vulnerable young adults they are likely to need someone to turn to, even after they have turned 18. It is time to end the misery of living alone too young for vulnerable youngsters, by giving every child in care the chance to 'stay put' until they're 21 - not just those in foster care.
The gap between the rhetoric and the reality of Government proposals for children's homes is increasingly deep. I am increasingly at a loss to find a way to help Ministers find the empathy for the situation the sector now finds itself placed in. We need our Ministers to be role models of effective child care policy and practice, and essential for good residential child care is something called reflective practice.
All we know about Looked After Children tells us that stability of living arrangements is a key factor to achieve. With it comes the opportunity to experience those sharing pieces of life that make all the difference but which in our busy lives we speak of far too little, a feeling of belonging, development of trust, the acceptance that builds self-esteem and feeling understood.
The right place at the right time for the right child. If we are to do this we need to do many things differently than we do now. Currently no children's home can feel safe secure and cared for because of the many pressures, especially those concerning finance and regulation, that are being applied to them.
The secretary of state for Education, Michael Gove, did something profoundly useful this last week, lifting the ban on revealing the locations of children's homes in the UK; the places that house our forlorn and forgotten few who are wards of the state, placed there for a variety of reasons usually owing to abusive and neglectful parents.