Parliamentary briefing and Guardian Q&A

The Care Inquiry has this week (Wednesday 12 December) attended the House of Lords to make presentations of academic evidence and to share the lived experiences of young people and foster carers with a group of MPs and Lords.

This session, designed to inform decision makers inside the House of Lords and House of Commons about the ongoing activities of the Care Inquiry, was led by Baroness Hilary Armstrong. Those in attendance heard from Professor Ian Sinclair, who made a presentation on identity and trends in the care system, and Jim Bond, who discussed his experiences as a foster carer.

Baroness Hilary Armstrong said of the Care Inquiry: “I am pleased that the Care Inquiry is taking place. It is impressive that these organisations, with their knowledge and expertise, have all come together to make positive change.

“We need to examine our own practices, good and bad, to see what should be taken forward and what should be left behind. We should not fear, if needs be, taking the lead from fellow professionals abroad and learning from their best practice.

“We must keep pushing until we are happy with outcomes for young people and find the right way forward for our most vulnerable.”

The session also heard from Amy O’Donohue and Kevani Kanda, young people with experience of care.

Amy discussed how going into care changed her life for the better but how she does not feel that she, or her siblings, were supported in developing their own identities after they were taken into care: “Going into care was the best thing to happen to me. I was taken into care at 14 and remember my life before care and so have an identity. My younger siblings don’t have that and they don’t have the support to understand why they are in care. They need help to deal with what has happened to them. I call my aunt, Aunty. My sister calls her Mum. We’ve never had help understand where we stand as people and as a family.”

Kevani issued a warning to those looking at changing the care system: “Not everyone in care has a voice so we have to get it right straight away for their sake. People made decisions for me and they were sometimes the wrong ones and that damaged me, we can’t let that happen to others.”

Cathy Ashley, chief executive of the Family Rights Group, said of the briefing: “It is vital that we keep those with the power to make change involved throughout the duration of the Care Inquiry.

“They have a duty to all families throughout England to ensure that each child receives the most appropriate care that will enable them to experience life to the fullest. This can be done through kinship care, foster care, adoption, residential care and often, it can mean going back to their birth parents. Whichever route is seen best for each individual child, proper support has to be in place to ensure that it works and offers the quality and consistency of care that we would all want for our own children.

“I would like to thank those that attended for seizing the opportunity to listen and learn about what is happening and what people feel needs to change within our care system.”

Representatives from the Care Inquiry charities also took part in a question and answer session on the Guardian Social Care Network on Thursday 13 December, the roundup of which is on their website.

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