This week (Monday 16 April 2012), a roundtable discussion was held chaired by Tim Loughton MP at the Department of Education. Representatives from across government departments were invited to discuss how collectively they can improve the journey from care to adulthood.
A new report, Access all Areas (pdf), produced jointly by Catch22’s National Care Advisory Service (NCAS), The Care Leavers’ Foundation, A National Voice and The Prince’s Trust calls for each central government department to individually scrutinise their own policies and to begin to look at ways of working together across departments for a more coherent overall approach.
The overarching recommendation is for central government departments to make a commitment to ‘care-proof’ all Government policies by assessing the impact they will have on looked after children and care leavers and those who support them.
After the meeting Tim Loughton, Children’s Minister committed to taking forward the report with other government departments starting by writing to all eight Ministerial colleagues who attend the Youth Action Group (YAG) and asking them to consider the recommendations and respond accordingly. The issues raised in the Access all Areas report will also feature on the agenda at a future YAG meeting.
Tim Loughton the Children's Minister said:
'Support for care leavers is still far too patchy and inconsistent across the country. They should start adult life knowing they have support and a safety net if things go wrong – just as most parents would give their own children. I very much welcome this report from the voluntary sector. The paper includes some very sensible and practicable recommendations on improving services and support for care leavers. Improving outcomes for care leavers is a Government priority and will feature strongly in our forthcoming Strategy on children in care. This paper will help inform the Government's summer strategy paper. I am today attending a seminar with voluntary sector groups to discuss the report and will work with Ministerial colleagues in Departments across Whitehall to deliver better outcomes for care leavers. As the corporate parents of these young people, we must and can do better.'
Martin Hazlehurst, National Manager of NCAS said:
'By ensuring that each government department ‘care proofs’ new policies and initiatives we bolster existing local authority duties and ensure they promote better local cooperation between public services working with care leavers. We want each department to consider how they can encourage better support for care leavers whether this is by offering a job in the ‘family business’, provide a home to return to when needed, or by being that ‘pushy parent’ that advocates for these young people across the system.'
Rich Rollinson, Chair of the Care Leaver’s Foundation, said:
'Access All Areas presents a real opportunity for government to better understand the very specific and often enduring needs of care leavers and to consider the unique relationship between a child in care, or a care leaver and state-as-parent. There are many easy fixes that can be achieved. No-one meant to design policies that prevent care leavers returning to education or consign them to permanent instability. The aim of Access All Areas is to educate and assist all government departments to better understand what needs to be done differently and why.'
Access All Areas has received cross-sector supported from a wide range of organisations and is endorsed by:
BAAF, Barnardo’s, Brighter Futures, Buttle UK, The Big Issue, The Caldecott Foundation, The Care Leavers Federation, The Chartered Institute of Housing, The Children’s Society, Drive Forward, The Fostering Network, Future Horizons, Imhotep Foundation, The Independent Children’s Homes Association, Kids Company, National Care Leavers’ Week, National Children’s Bureau, National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum, Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers, NCERCC, St Christopher’s, TACT, The Who Cares? Trust, Voice, Voices from Care, Young Minds, John Kemmis, Edward Timpson (Chair of the APPG for looked after children and care leavers).
Download the Access All Areas report (pdf).