Charities launch major inquiry into the care of looked-after children

By Neil Puffett

| 01 October 2012

An inquiry into how best to provide stable homes for children who cannot live with their birth parents has been launched by a group of eight charities.

The inquiry aims to identify the best provision for children and young people in care. Image: Alex Deverill

The Care Inquiry will collect evidence on the different ways of giving children in care a steady home life and the support they need to develop a positive identity.

It has been set up by Adoption UK, the British Association of Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), Family Rights Group, the Fostering Network, Research in Practice, Tact, the Together Trust and The Who Cares? Trust.

The inquiry will examine evidence at three sessions in November, December and January, with a final report due to be published by spring 2013, including recommendations to local and central government.

The chief executives of the charities have written an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron stating that emphasis of the care system must be on “finding homes that meet a child's needs and on avoiding unnecessary delays”.

“Different options – foster care, adoption, special guardianship, being cared for by family or friends or in children’s homes – will be right for different children,” the letter said.

“They all have the potential to meet a child's needs and provide them with a stable and secure environment during childhood and beyond. The care system must work to improve the lives of all children who come into contact with it.

“The crucial thing – for each and every child – is to find a home which provides them with stability, helps them develop a strong sense of identity and gives them a feeling of belonging.”

Every year more than 90,000 children are involved in the care system across England. Most looked-after children, around 73 per cent, are in foster care, with 10 per cent in children's homes. The majority of the rest are cared for by extended family or friends or live in residential schools.

To read the letter, click here.

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