Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Over a thousand children in care voice their experiences of the care system

A year on from the first national annual survey of children’s views of being in care or living in residential education and the picture is a mixed one. Over nine out of ten children (92%) feel safe in the home they live in and 90% thought their care was good. However, over three quarters of children in care (76%) have been separated from brothers and sisters who live in different care placements and one in five (20%) continue to be bullied for being in care.

The report, Children’s care monitor 2009, produced by the Children’s Rights Director for England, Dr Roger Morgan, is the second annual survey of its kind, taking first-hand account of 1,195 children’s experiences in care or otherwise living away from home and provides an up-to-date position of what children and young people are saying.

The issue of being separated from your siblings is a very important worry for children in care and therefore this question has been included in this year’s report to assess the situation. Nearly two thirds (63%) of children in care have brothers or sisters who were also in care and of those, 76% have been separated from their siblings who live in different care placements.

Nearly half of the children (46%) who were separated from their siblings in care thought it was wrong that they had been separated and over two thirds (69%) thought siblings should be placed together. Those that were more likely to be placed separately from their siblings were boys, those aged over 14 and children living in children’s homes.

When feeling unsafe, the most likely person that children would go to for help were their friends, with 62% of children going to friends for help. The police (52%) were listed as second most likely to be contacted, then foster carers (48%) and fourthly teachers (48%). Parents (46%) came just below social workers (47%).

Children’s Right Director, Dr Roger Morgan said: ‘In order to improve the experiences of children in care or living away from home, it is essential that we get their views first hand. That is why this annual monitoring is so important.

‘This year’s figures are close to last year’s, which is reassuring as it indicates things have remained stable. However, I am concerned that it also demonstrates that we still need to sort out the same issues for children. It is important that children are listing friends as the main person they would go to if they feel unsafe. We need to recognise the burden often carried by friends, and to make sure that they know where to turn for information and support, and when they should pass concerns on.’

Although more children in care or living away from home are reporting that they have never been bullied, up from 39% to 45% this year, one in five (20%) children in care continue to be bullied simply for being in care. Girls were more likely than boys to be bullied for being in care and 19% of care leavers were also bullied because they used to be in care.

69% of children in care were informed when major changes were going to happen in their lives, 65% said they had a say in their care plans, and 82% said that their care plans were being kept to.

There are many positives that children felt from being in care. 90% reported the quality of their care to be good or very good, and 84% reported their education to be good or very good with 79% saying that were doing well or very well in their education.

Notes for Editors

1. Children’s care monitor 2009 report can be found at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Publications-and-research/Browse-all-by/Care/Children-s-rights/Children-s-care-monitor-2009 and the Office of the Children’s Rights Director website www.rights4me.org.

2. The 1,195 children and young people who took part in the 2009 survey came from 57 local authorities, 17 independent fostering agencies, six independent children’s homes, 10 boarding schools, five residential special schools and six residential further education colleges.

3. The Children’s Rights Director for England has an independent personal statutory duty to ascertain the views of children living away from home or receiving social care services. He is now based in Ofsted.

4. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

5. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office via Ofsted's enquiry line 08456 404040 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

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