The Committee believes that more children need to be taken into care as birth families are being given too many opportunities to change their behaviour, leading to long term damage to their children.
There are also a number of other important issues that the Committee has identified.
Firstly, they rightly say that society needs to be more positive about the care system. There are too many negative images and stereotypes of care. Going into care can and should be a positive experience. TACT’s own experience is that a stable and secure time in care transforms lives and leads to successful and confident adulthood.
The Committee has also highlighted that much of the focus in care is on younger children and that adolescents can be overlooked or receive insufficient attention. TACT absolutely agrees with the Committee on this. Research published earlier this year by TACT and the University of East Anglia shows that adolescence, particularly if this is the time entering care, is a time of great risk but also great opportunity. Getting it right can help mitigate against years of abuse or neglect.
Finally, and crucially, the Committee talks of children being ‘pushed out of care too young and insufficiently prepared and supported’. TACT could not agree more. Young people leave care insufficiently prepared for independence as a matter of course. Years of hard work and positive experiences are undermined and jeopardised as children are forced into independent living at 18 or often younger.
TACT believes that the whole system of leaving care needs to be reassessed. If the state has intervened in the life of a child to become their parent then the obligations that flow from that should see support based according to need rather than age. We want to see care leavers who need them given priority access to health and other services on an ongoing basis. Any costs invoked will be greatly offset by the societal savings that would follow.
TACT hopes that the new Children’s Minister Edward Timpson MP takes the views and recommendations of the Committee seriously. He and his colleagues in Government must react positively to the overwhelming case for greater support for those in and leaving care.
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