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.
The UK government is pushing ahead full steam with Clause 1 of the Children and Families Bill. If implemented it could result in some children being placed with potential adopters despite there having been no court proceedings, no court decision that the child should be permanently removed from their parents and no legal advice given to the parents.
The prospects for young people starting out in the world today are already bleak with nearly one million young people currently unemployed - and now life is about to get even harder for them. The reckless proposal to remove housing benefits from under-25s risks leaving some of this country's most vulnerable young people out in the cold. What makes this proposal particularly distasteful is that in reality only a mere eight per cent of total housing benefits are claimed by under-25s, making this a policy which risks causing long-term harm to the lives of young people for the sake of a few headlines.
Children's homes can provide the upbringing a young people deserves. Opportunities struggled for and achieved despite a system that actively undermines such success deserves national public recognition. Imagine the self-esteem that would be shared by young people and staff. Imagine the change in public perception.
How could a 10 or 11-year-old girl be expected to tell the police that she went shoplifting as a cry for help or act of desperation to get food because she is living rough and last night she was raped by eight men? When we are dealing with child sexual abuse it is never, never up to the child to deal with it and quite wrong that they could face punishment if they fail to reveal.
An independent investigation is needed into England's children's homes which are failing to manage and protect youngsters who run away or go missing, ...
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Last week Michael Gove gave a speech on the future of adoption. He challenged head on the belief that taking children from damaging home situations into care was itself damaging. As a foster carer myself I strongly welcome this clear and unambiguous statement. It is great to hear him say that care is a positive outcome for some children. Over the years, my wife and I have cared for significant numbers of children where we strongly felt that the rights of parents had come first, when decisions over whether to take children into care were being made.