The release of the 2019 Stability Index from the Children’s Commissioner on 01 August, has reported an increase in the number of teenagers in the care system bouncing around it, changing homes and families, schools and social workers.
This report is worrying as without stability, anyone would struggle to take hold of their life, and for some of the most vulnerable to be denied a chance to settle down into a safe environment, feel part of a family, a school, a community and to feel loved, are often the ones most at risk of exploitation.
The index shows how the profile and needs of children in care has changed over the last five years, driven by a growing share of older children and teenage care entrants who have more complex needs and potentially more expensive living arrangements. They are six times more likely than children under 13 to be living in residential or secure children’s homes, and nearly half are living in privately-run accommodation.
It is clear from this report, that the care system is struggling to cope and there is a need for more investment in it. Nonetheless, care experienced young people need to be at the heart of how the system changes for the better, their experiences should be heard, and their voices help shape and influence the services that are developed to support them.
At Leicestershire Cares, we believe in an inclusive and safe Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland where nobody is left behind, and all children and young people are supported to reach their full potential. We are working with young people with care experience to participate in groups that offer support, opportunities to make new friends, learn new skills, have fun, find accommodation and work, but also get their voice heard and share their issues and concerns with those who make the decisions. This dialog is needed between care leavers and decision makers, so they are better placed to understand and support the care leaver needs.
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England said in the 2019 Stability Index report: “All children in care have a right to expect that the state does all it can to improve their chances of growing up in stable and loving environments”. This is true, however, until then, organisations that can broker partnerships between business, local government, schools and community groups so they can share skills and knowledge to deliver lasting positive change for the most vulnerable, will continue to be vital in care experienced young peoples lives.
For more information about the VOICES project contact Jacob: firstname.lastname@example.org