The Fostering Network, as part of The Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, has called for a clearer definition of what care in England aims to achieve with the launch of its New Vision.
The group wants a statement in law from the Government defining the principal aims of the care system for those children who spend a significant time in care, as being:
- to promote psychological healing from past harm;
- to build resilience;
- to achieve wellbeing.
In order to realise this change, a new framework is required to measure how all children and young people are coping in care, which can then be used to hold local authorities to account.
A New Vision is published at a time when the care system continues to fail too many children, despite the evidence that care can be the right option and can provide the security, stability and love that children need.
The Alliance is also calling for:
- Greater support and training for primary carers and key workers in children’s homes - so they can help children overcome past experiences and build positive relationships;
- Mechanisms for assessing the quality of care from the child’s perspective - and accountability when a placement doesn’t work for them;
- Measurement of children’s wellbeing and progress throughout their care experience - rather than one-off outcomes, so we understand when children are doing well and when they need more support;
- Care that meets the day-to-day emotional needs of children - but with timely access to specialist mental health support if needed;
- Continued support when young people leave care - so they are not expected to become independent earlier than their peers.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “We must support children and young people on their whole journey through the care system and beyond, to give them the very best chance of achieving their ambitions and personal wishes. That is why we are part of the group of charities which has come together to call for real clarity in what care is aiming to achieve for each child, so that we can work more holistically to create brighter futures for all.
“Viewing each element of care in isolation is to fundamentally not understand a child. When trauma affects children we cannot simply hold our hands up after removing them from a harmful situation and say that’s a job done. We must love and nurture children and young people through their whole childhood, into adulthood, and beyond. Foster carers have a huge role to play in this process and are a vital part of the professional team around the child who will help guide them.”
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