Campaigners have urged the government to prioritise raising the leaving care age in the children in care white paper.
Education secretary Alan Johnson confirmed last week that a white paper setting out reform of the care system will be published this year, following last autumn’s consultative green paper, Care Matters.
An analysis of consultation responses, launched last week in east London by children’s minister Beverley Hughes (pictured), found that, although the green paper was welcomed, there was a fear it would not be properly resourced and positive messages not translated into policies.
The government has committed to proceeding only with the proposals “that would really transform the lives of children and young people in care” rather than all 122.
The analysis showed that proposals to make leaving care more gradual received the most positive support, with 94% of respondents saying young people should have a veto over leaving care before 18.
The Fostering Network, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering and the Care Leavers’ Association all told Community Care that extending the minimum leaving care age of 16 must be one of the white paper priorities. Improving the training, support and recruitment of foster carers also featured in the groups’ priorities and the CLA said national leaving care accommodation standards should be introduced.
Baaf said the white paper should introduce measures to enable social workers to do more direct work with children and ensure permanency plans for children are drawn up.
Fostering Network chief executive Robert Tapsfield said: “Care Matters has a range of sensible proposals but many will have financial implications and there’s a need to prioritise what is implemented when. The white paper is likely to do that. There’s still work to be done in ensuring that the most important recommendations are acted upon.”
Robert Tapsfield will join a debate on the future of the care system at Community Care LIVE on 17 May, alongside Baaf chief executive David Holmes. To register go to www.communitycare.co.uk/cclive/index.htm
The Fostering Network
British Association for Adoption and Fostering
Care Leavers’ Association
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