Saturday, May 20, 2006

The best we can do?

Various bits of news have cropped up about looked-after children in the last few days, and when added up, they make rather depressing reading.

Over 1 in 10 children moves foster placements
more than 3 times in a year. As the Commission for Social Care Inspection says:
“Waking up in a different bed, in a strange house, maybe in a different town - with complete strangers every few months - would be hard for an adult. It is particularly hard for children.

“Many children in foster care have been traumatised by difficult histories, separation and loss. They need a stable environment that will allow them to cope with these experiences and move forward.”
I guess we should at least be glad that the CPS has
revised its guidance on prosecuting ‘offences’ committed by looked-after children in care homes. Can you imagine any half-decent parent calling the police because their child had broken the broom in a fit of temper? Good grief.

The
editorial in this week’s ‘Children Now’ highlights an appalling failure in the system – what happens to looked-after children when they turn 16. Some are simply turfed out into ‘independent living’. Actually, that’s a pretty barbaric way to treat someone of 18, let alone 16. Independence isn’t something that happens suddenly – most young people have the option of coming and going for a few years, and ringing home for a bit of parental affection or a financial bail-out when the going gets tough.

The shame of it is that a lot of the obstacles wouldn’t be there if those of us who stand a better chance of being heard actually started kicking up a fuss. So send an FOI request to your local authority and ask (a) how many looked-after children were moved more than 3 times last year and (b) what arrangements are in place for supporting young people in their late teens and early twenties. And while you’re at it, ask them about their policy on
binbagging.

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