Monday, October 09, 2006

The continuing scandal of children in the looked after system

A welcome initiative today with the launch of a Green Paper to tackle the scandal of poor educational achievement of children in the Looked-After system.

The article does create a sense of deja vu, however - in 2005 the Government launched its Every Child Matters programme, which included a focus on children in care.

I spent 7 years working in children's residential homes in the 1990's (not in Darlington). Most practice was good, and members of staff had a real commitment to the children and young people in their charge. It was rare, however, for young people to emerge with any qualifications at all. In part, this was because of the nature of clients who were placed in children's homes - many had been thrown out by their parents owing to conflict at home, and generally most had already missed large amounts of schooling prior to being acommodated. Helping these children come to terms with the rejection they had suffered, stabilise their lives as well as promoting regular school attendance, proved a very difficult task.

Real change will only come when there is substantial investment in services to support families and prevent break-ups. Some children will always have to be looked after by the state owing to parental incapacity or harm. There are many more children in care even today, however, who really shouldn't be there.


IAN HOLME said...

This ia a welcome and long-overdue initiative.
Little wonder that so many end up in a life of crime when they are left to fend for themselves at 16.

With a very level headed 16 year old daughter myself, the thought of someone her age left on her own is too awful to contemplate.

I was particulary interested in the proposal for kids in care to have an automatic right to attend the highest performing of local schools., with the school being forced to accept them.
This is of interest to me as i have personal knowledge of three young lads going through the adoption process. These three bothers are all under 11, but despite the junior school being literally opposite their new home, they have not been able to secure places for all three at the one school.
Given all that these kids must have been through in their short lives, it seems shameful to put them through yet more stress by splitting them up in this way.

This is happening in Darlington...NOW



Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks Ian.

You're quite right - it's essential that siblings should not only live together but also be educated together too. Sibling relationships are usually the most enduring we experience - after all parents and their generation normally pass away when their children are in their middle age, but there is a much stronger liklihood that our siblings will remain with us for most of our lives.

It would be wrong for me to comment publicly on the position an individual finds themself in, but I have made enquiries today, and I will email you separately.

Best wishes,