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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Children In Care Advice Lawyers London

A new report by The Children's Society has highlighted a need for stronger statutory guidance to make sure that every child in the care system has access to vital independent advocacy.

The role of an independent advocate is to make sure that children in care have their views heard and acted upon. An advocate works directly with the child, giving them the opportunity to make their opinion known when it comes to decisions about their lives.

The report found that children and young people in care are experiencing inconsistency across England in getting advocacy help, which can have a massive impact on their lives. The problem is worst for the most vulnerable groups of children, including disabled and very young children.

The charity, which runs nine advocacy services across England, reviewed 142 cases and found that providing children with this support can lead to stronger care placements, boost educational attainment and have other enormous benefits.

The Children's Society found that just under half of cases they assessed involved children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and/or a disability. It also found that that placement, taking part in their reviews and leaving care were the issues that children and young people most frequently expressed their need for support.

The charity conducted a review of services from a practice base, looking at the services provided and how advocacy plays a crucial role in the well-being of children and young people, especially those in care who often have decisions made about their lives without being consulted. It also looks at the financial implications and how advocacy now could save local authorities money in the long-term.

A report by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers has recommended that schools should receive an extra £1,000 of funding for every child they teach from foster or residential care, reports The Who Cares? Trust.

Children in care perform less well on average at school and are also more likely to be excluded. The proposed 'pupil premium plus' would provide additional support for these children at school with the aim of improving their attainment.

Edward Timpson MP, who chairs the APPG on Looked After Children and Care Leavers, said:

“Education can be a lifeline for looked-after children. The pupil premium plus would be a well-targeted way to get extra resources directly to the children and really make a difference.”

As this year’s GCSE results are published, the Fostering Network Wales is calling on the Welsh Government and local authorities to focus on providing stable foster care in order to help looked-after children do better in education.

The call follows the publication of a new report from the Welsh Audit Office, which highlights that while the education of children in care is improving, too many are not achieving their potential.

In 2011, 23% of looked after children achieved the benchmark of five A to C grades in their GCSEs, compared to 67% of all children in Wales, while 29% of young people leaving care had no qualifications at all.

Commenting on the report, Freda Lewis, director of the Fostering Network Wales, said: “While the education of children in care in Wales has improved, their achievements still fall well behind their peers and this cannot continue.

“With the number of children coming into care continuing to rise and the vast majority going to live with foster carers, the Welsh Government and local authorities must ensure fostering is a priority so these children get the right support at home as well as in the classroom.”

The Government has published discussion papers seeking views – the first reviewing contact arrangements for children with their birth parents and the second looking at placing sibling groups for adoption.

The papers are based on proposals from the Government’s Advisor on Adoption Martin Narey, and call for views from professionals, charities, foster carers, children in care, adopted children and adoptive parents.

Martin Narey said:

“Today the Government is asking for views on two issues which are central to the long term welfare of such children. The first is about contact between children in care and their birth families. This follows advice from me to Ministers in which I have expressed anxiety about the amount of contact we allow and the potential of that to harm children. The second issue, on which I have also expressed concern, is about the extent to which we try to keep brothers and sisters together in planning for their adoption.

“On contact, many of the practitioners I have spoken to during the past year, and in numerous visits to local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies, have convinced me that too often we allow contact when it is not in the best interests of the child. Sometimes, even when contact is appropriate, we allow too much of it. It is not uncommon for infants in care to be shuttled, sometimes long distances, and every day, for meetings with their birth mother of two or more hours. The distress that causes to infants gravely troubles both their foster carers and their social workers.

“I have not suggested to Ministers that contact between birth families and children in care should not continue to be the norm. But I have urged them to consider whether the current legislative presumption in favour of contact is appropriate and whether, instead, policy should make clear that contact must always be in the interests of the child.

“On siblings, I have concluded that while we should and must do more to recruit adopters willing to take on the challenge of adopting two or more children simultaneously, we need to ensure that local authority and court decisions are informed by the research evidence which tells us - much as it might surprise us – that keeping siblings together may not always be in the interests of individual children. For example where, through a period of neglect, an older child has been effectively parenting a younger child, it can be vital for them to be separated so that each child can develop a positive attachment with their new parents.

“And the adopter challenge of successfully compensating for an early life of neglect, where a child has often suffered significant harm, will often be more manageable when adopters are coping with just one child, not two, three or four.”

 

The judge behind the innovative Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) has warned that the court may be under threat as a result of spending cuts, reports the Law Gazette.

 

Investment in foster care is essential to ensure that more foster homes are available for children who need them, according to the Fostering Network. The warning comes after the release of new figures showing a further rise in children coming into care in England and an increase in the number living with foster carers.

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