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THE QUEEN’S SPEECH AND NEGLECTED CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

We love the Queen’s speech. We really do. A lady wearing a hat that costs more than most people’s houses remarked that it was a time of austerity. Mr Cameron gave us the now familiar Tory soundbite of, ‘This Queen’s Speech is all about backing people who work hard and want to get on in life.” We had been promised a whole new approach, one that would help improve, perhaps save the lives of tens of thousands of children who are stuck in care until they are eighteen.

Type the search term, ‘adoption in the Queen’s Speech.’ It is Not Found. No surprise there. We’re used to promises and talk but not much action. What we’re really disturbed about though is that the most repeated words in the document are ‘Cuts’ and “Councils’. Together. So how are we going to look after these vulnerable young people already suffering because of Osborne and Cameron’s austerity package? In our report last year, we noted that many young people in care will have experienced traumatic, dysfunctional childhoods. Sadly children are not given away because their parents adore them. They are usually taken away when they have been abused or neglected.

As it was clear in our report from last year. Many young people in care will have experienced difficult and often traumatic childhoods and many of them will have been abused or neglected.When they leave the system after a life in care, their outlook is bleak. Cameron and his government seem to want to make it even worse. How bad does it have to get?
Seven organisations – Barnardo’s, The Care Leavers Association, Catch22, the Fostering Network, TACT, Voice and The Who Cares? Trust – are calling on the Government to reform the system in a new briefing, “Still Our Children”, published today.
The number of young people aged 16 and over leaving care has risen each year from 8,170 in 2007 to 10,000 in 2012. This is the result of the State as corporate parent. Changes are needed to improve comparatively low outcomes for care leavers:

  • 23 per cent of the adult prison population has spent some time in care
  • Around a quarter of those living on the street have a background in care
  • Care leavers more than four times more likely to commit suicide in adulthood
  • In 2011 just 12.8 per cent of children who had been in care for a minimum of one year obtained five good grade GCSEs, including English and maths; for other children the figure was 57.9 per cent
  • The number of 19-year-olds who were looked after when aged 16 years and who are now NEET is 36 per cent, double the number of their non-care contemporaries.

Yes we agree that young adults should benefit from more support when they leave care. We absolutely do. However might it not be better to address the problem at its roots. An adoption system that actually works for the participants and placed children with families in a timely manner would be a huge start. And it would lessen the care burden. The foster care system currently costs the state £2bn per year. If we add the costs of prison, homelessness, and drug problems, the overall cost to society is a big one. Meanwhile, the foster care system is imploding and there continues to be a major shortage of foster carers. If there was less need for foster carers, the current ones could foster for longer and the children would have some stability. Astonishingly the government appears not to have made these connections and they are the only ones who cannot see that without an holistic approach to the welfare of children in our society they are doomed to perpetuate this chain of neglect and incompetence.


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