Adopted Children and young people and care leavers were mentioned in the Queen’s speech last week, with a promised Children and Social Work Bill:
“A Bill will be introduced to ensure that children can be adopted by new families without delay, improve the standard of social work and opportunities for young people in care in England.”
The purpose of the Bill is to:
- Ensure that the state delivers on our collective responsibility to help children leaving care make a good start in adult life, through a new ‘Care Leavers’ Covenant’ underpinned by a statutory duty requiring local authorities to publish the services and standards of treatment care leavers are entitled to.
- Tip the balance in favour of permanent adoption where that is the right thing for the child - helping to give children stability.
The main elements of the Bill are:
- Standards for how local authorities should act as a ‘corporate parent’ to support children in care and as they move into adult life.
- A requirement on local authorities to consult on and publish a ‘local offer’ to care leavers, setting out the services they are entitled to.
- An extension to the right to a Personal Adviser, someone who will make sure care leavers receive the support they need as they transition into adulthood, to all who want one up to the age of 25.
- Ensuring courts and local authorities take better account of a child’s need for stability up to the age of 18 when making decisions about their future.
- A duty on local authorities and schools to promote educational achievement for adopted children and those in the long-term care of family members or guardians.
- A specialist regulator for social work, to enable a clear focus on standards and effective training and development.
- Better protection of children by ensuring that lessons are learned from serious child safeguarding cases.
- Support for innovation in children’s social care by allowing local authorities to pilot new, innovative approaches.
Adopted young people who came with us to meet the Children’s Commissioner for England highlighted some of these points:
“ Young people shouldn’t just be left on their own when they leave care - they still need help. It’s hard sometimes to know what to do and where to get support when you suddenly find yourself out of your home and living independently.”
“I thought I’d had a hard time, but really, my story is ok, I lost my birth parents and I feel different, but I know I’m loved, I’ve had good support and I have a safe family. Seeing how other adopted people have to try and make it on their own at 17/18 seems unfair – more should be done to change this.”