Did you know that this year 100,000 children and young people in England will spend time being looked after by a local authority?
For many children, this is a brief period while their family sort out a crisis and they will return home once problems have been resolved. For others, it can go on for longer and this can mean that children cared for in different ways, as they grow into adolescence and become adults.
These different ways include living with relatives, foster carers, or being adopted, or living in a residential home with other young people. Sometimes it still ends up with children going back home or moving in with relatives. All these ways of looking after children are part of the English “care system”.
The aim of our care system is to support families to help keep children safe and happy. It is there to make sure that children have a permanent place to grow up in, but as time goes on and learning and evidence develops, is the care system still serving our children as well as it should be?
The Care Inquiry is a collaboration of specialist charities representing all care options for these children. Adoption UK, British Association of Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), Family Rights Group, the Fostering Network, Research in Practice, TACT, The Together Trust and The Who Cares? Trust are bringing together their expertise and knowledge – and that of others within the sector – to explore how society can best provide homes for our most vulnerable children.
The Care Inquiry wants to:
- take a fresh look at which children come in and out of the care system.
- explore what we know about how children in care can have the same chances as other children to grow up with a positive sense of their identity and where they belong, and
- find out what more can be done to provide children and young people with a sense that they have a home for life.
- make recommendations to government about how the care system can best meet the needs of children and young people
Different councils do this work in different ways, and we want to find out why that is so and what it means for children. We want to check what research studies and other reports have told us in recent years. We want to see what we can learn from the way other countries respond to the needs of children and young people who might not be able to stay at home or go back home from care. We want to get people talking about what they know, what they think, and what they themselves and others close to them can tell us about their own experience of the care system.
There will be three formal meetings of the Care Inquiry in November, December and January. These will be for invited people, and they will be:
- looking at recent trends in the law and practice for children in care;
- learning from young people and adults about how the care system provides long-term stability for children;
- thinking how best to provide ways of providing well for children in the care system who have different ages, backgrounds and needs.
There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved in The Care Inquiry. You can follow the Inquiry on Twitter and visit our Pinterest page where you can find out all the information you need about the Inquiry’s work and the organisations involved.