Social services accused of failing children in their care

Children and families social services are failing in their duties towards young people in care who enter custody, a conference heard today.

Fran Russell, policy adviser at Voice for the Child in Care told a seminar at the Youth Justice Board annual conference that many social workers were closing files on young people in care and lost contact with them after they went into custody.

Around 3,000 young people who have been in care are released from custody every year – around 20 in each local authority area, the seminar heard.

Russell said it was “a travesty” of local authority duty that many young people lost contact with their families, had no money to buy essentials and were released from custody without being given proper accommodation, despite their legal entitlement.

John Coughlan Association of Directors of Social Services children and families spokesperson, said social services had to marshal resources to meet the needs of care leavers in custody.

He raised concerns that once young people reached the age of 16 it was seen as a “cut off point”  by social services, leaving care leavers in custody without support.

Coughlan said there needed to be more work to bring together the youth justice and children’s agendas.


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