Children’s Commissioner
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The Big Ambition for Children’s Social Care

Children in care and those receiving support from children’s social care share the same hopes and dreams as their peers: they want to be supported to reach their aspirations in the same way as any other children. Like all children, they want a loving, stable home, a brilliant education and grown-ups who love them into adulthood.

The Big Ambition results show that thankfully the overwhelming majority of children feel safe, loved and secure at home. However, this is sadly not the case for all children. Those children with a social worker are less likely to feel they have a place to call home, and to feel loved by those they live with. My role as Children’s Commissioner, and my great privilege, is to act as a champion for these children – all of whom deserve to have lives that are as fulfilling, rounded and happy as any other child.

The Big Ambition results show that we still have some way to go until this is the case. It heard from 390 children who were in secure settings, such as Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) or Secure Children’s Homes. These children were consistently less positive in their responses than other children. The care that children in custody or living in secure settings for welfare reasons receive must be as safe, loving, and secure as any other form of care

What has been clear in speaking to children in care and those receiving support from children’s social care is that the system is overwhelmed and unable to responsively meet the needs of children. I have heard from children in care who feel they are not listened to, who say they do not live in loving homes and as a result do not have access to consistent and loving relationships. Responses to The Big Ambition highlighted the need for safe, loving places for children to live in order for children and young people to reach their full potential:

“Everyone should have a safe place to live. They want somebody to love them and treat them well like their family.” – Girl, 10, living with family other than parents/kinship carers.

“They should listen to us more.” – Child, 13, living in a children’s home.

“Make all care providers for all young people Ofsted registered because I’ve been neglected and when released I’m going back to neglect… I need therapy and regulated.” – Boy, 16

While some children talked about their positive experiences with foster care, social workers, adoptive parents and other professionals – and there are many amazing and dedicated examples out there – many also shared their frustrations. Everyone working with children must re-double their commitment to getting to a situation where every child is not only safe, as an absolute minimum, but feels loved and cherished.

That’s why as Children’s Commissioner, I have set out five overarching outcomes I want for every child in The Big Ambition, namely that they are safe, healthy, happy, learning and engaged in their community.

To achieve that within children’s social care will mean achieving the following ambitions:

  • Every child involved with children’s social care is truly listened to, and their views are heard.
  • All families get consistent, effective help to improve children’s welfare, and to stay together wherever it is in a child’s best interests.
  • Every child in care has a loving stable home.
  • Every young person with care experience continues to receive care and support for as long as they need it.
  • Every child who needs secure care receives it in an integrated, homely environment. All Young Offenders Institutions are closed.

You can read all my recommendations for how we can achieve each of these ambitions in The Big Ambition report.

The Big Ambition for Children’s Social Care

Read the report and research in full

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