Sunday, December 3, 2023

Letter: The Government needs to ‘level up’ the system for children in care  

THE care system exists to support children who cannot live with their birth parents or do not have a stable and supportive home life. At its best it can protect children from harm and help them recover from traumatic early experiences. At Barnardo’s, we know from our direct experience supporting children in care across the South East that one of the greatest challenges they face is still
instability. For far too many children, living in care can feel like being ‘bounced around’ a system, with frequent changes of home leaving them feeling endlessly unsettled. 

Through the work of our regional family hubs, we know it is possible to help families to access crucial support before things reach crisis point. The key is early support.
We want to see the Government provide more early support for the country’s most vulnerable families: so that children can have safer childhoods and more positive futures.

The number of children in care now sits at a record high of over 80,000 in England alone, and many of these young people carry burdens that young shoulders shouldn’t have to bear.

With the recent publication of the Government’s review of the children’s social care system in England, we now have a unique, once in a generation opportunity to give these children
the same opportunities as we expect for our own children.

It cannot be right that children who experience the care system are more likely to become homeless or end up in prison. It cannot be right that, during their most unsettled moments,
children in care can be passed from pillar to post. And it cannot be right that we, as a society, allow all this and more to happen without demanding change. 

Correcting this fundamental inequality for children in care is a major undertaking. However, if the Government can get the system of care and support right for these children, then we
can truly start to ‘level up’ opportunities for all, right across the country. 


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