The third evidence session of the Care Inquiry took place on 8th January at the Nuffield Foundation, London, attended by social care professionals, representatives from the eight Care Inquiry charities and care experienced young people and care givers.
The session, Building Futures: Moving on to recommendations, was designed to bring together the evidence gathered at the first two sessions and the consultation day with care experienced young people from around the country.
The day was opened by session chair Dorit Braun, acting chief executive of the College of Social Work, and chair of the Care Inquiry steering group, Robert Tapsfield.
Tapsfield said: “Giving children stability and security while they are in care is vital if they are to achieve their potential and so we need to look at the whole range of ways that we can support children and their families throughout their time in care.”
Closing his opening comments, Tapsfield did elude to the fact that our role isn’t over once a young person reaches 18, “however good the care is, if the support isn’t there when children are over 18, we’re undermining good work already done.”
The attendees at session three heard from Professor Gillian Schofield, from the School of Social Work at the University of East Anglia, who discussed what we need to change in law, policy and practice using five key themes. These were: values; pathways through care and into adulthood; quality of practice; listening to children and involving them in decisions about their lives and the significance of relationships.
Attendees also heard a presentation by two young people who were also part of the young person consultation conducted by The Who Cares? Trust. They introduced a video made during the consultation of young people which contained their views on how they were treated throughout their time in care.
The first young person to present to the Care Inquiry discussed identity, culture and religion and how they felt that it hadn’t been taken into account sufficiently during their time in care: “Identity, culture and religion are different things and should not be grouped together. We’re all individuals, so every time you work with a new young person, you’re starting again. You need to learn afresh”
A second young person discussed her desire for a personal history and how her foster carer helped her: “When I went into care I didn’t know what a home was. I’ve been moved so many times that I just didn’t know. My foster carer worked so hard to help me create an identity for myself. She helped me understand what a home was.
“I believe that young people should be asked about where they want to be placed, their needs should be addressed. Social workers must explore issues of culture and identity, they can’t just put us anywhere”
Following these presentations, the attendees at the third session then broke out into groups where possible recommendations were discussed. Further details of these will be published in due course.
This session of the Care Inquiry contained both a morning and afternoon session which both took the format described above. This was so that the Care Inquiry could hear the views of as many professionals and people with experience of the care system as possible.
Dez Holmes, director at research in practice, said of the third evidence session: “Today we discussed what we have learnt in the first two sessions of the Inquiry so that we can make relevant and constructive recommendations for change.
“Throughout the inquiry we have been listening to and interpreting the evidence available to us; evidence from research and from a wide range of professionals. Crucially we have also examined the evidence submitted by young people and adults with experience of care, as this is a vital source of learning.”
Although this was the final formal session of the Care Inquiry, you can still submit evidence to the Care Inquiry. If you would like to submit written evidence about your own experiences of the care system, please email 300-500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are still in care or would like to remain anonymous, please do not put any identifying information in your submission.