Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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More support may have prevented children coming into care

The latest report from the Children’s Rights Director, Dr Roger Morgan, reveals that nearly half (43%) of the children in care consulted believe they would not have needed to come into the system had they received more support. However, just under a third of those who responded to the survey (36%) reported that even with additional support for them and their families, they would still have needed to enter into care.

Children on the edge of care gives direct accounts of children’s own experience and their views about coming into care and returning home. The survey consulted 122 children across the country on what could be done to help them and the support needed to face these circumstances.

The support children felt would have kept them from being in care included parenting guidance, ensuring families receive respite care if the parent or child have a disability, help with the child’s problems and keeping them out of trouble with the police or school. One child described their experience: ‘There is always a certain problem that would make children go into care. I was taken into care because I was looking after my younger siblings. My mum asked social services for support and they took her children away.’

Dr Roger Morgan, Children’s Rights Director for England said:

“Decisions to place children in care or returning children back to their family are difficult, life changing and can be traumatic. This report takes the views of children already in care and looks at what lessons can be learnt to ensure they, and others like them, do not necessarily go into care, or if they are to go back home, it is in their best interest.

“It is clear from listening to children that more support is needed to help children stay with their families before decisions are made about placing them into care. Similarly, reuniting children with their families needs to be gradual and timely, with social workers checking and assessing whether this is still is the best interest of the child.”

Whether or not to go back home is a difficult decision. The report reveals that decisions about returning children home from care should be taken on a case-by-case basis, taking both the parents’ and children’s views into account and looking at what is best for the child. Of the children who responded almost half (48%) thought they should definitely stay in care, while 40% thought they should now leave care. Of those wanting to leave care, a small proportion (19%) said they should go back to their birth parents, with 13% wanting to live with a different member of the family.

It is clear from the report, that if children are to go back to live with their birth families, there should be extra support to help to make it work. Reuniting families should be a gradual process involving trial visits, with an understanding that timing is crucial because as more time passes the emotional attachments between children and parents change and can deteriorate. As one child explained: ‘The bonds that the child used to have will never come back’.

Notes for Editors

1. Children on the edge of care report can be found on the Children’s Rights Director’s website www.rights4me.org and the Ofsted website www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/100210

‘Edge of care’ concerns decisions to bring children into care, and later to return them home from care.

2. The Children’s Rights Director for England has independent statutory duties to ascertain and report the views of children living away from home or in care, to advise on children’s rights and welfare, and to raise matters he considers significant to the rights or welfare of the children in his remit.

3. 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.

4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 123 1231 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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