Thousands of children and young people in young offender institutions do not have enough money to buy essentials such as soap because professionals are failing to provide “basic care”.
Charity Voice for the Child in Care, which today changes its name to Voice to reflect the growing number of settings in which it helps young people, including the juvenile estate, has evidence that social workers are not fulfilling their duties. This is despite a High Court ruling three years ago that children in custody were protected by the provisions of the Children Act 1989.
Chief executive of Voice John Kemmis said the charity, which has contracts with the Youth Justice Board to provide advocacy services, had evidence that social workers in some areas were not “taking their responsibilities seriously”.
“There has been a culture [in social services] of really not bothering about their responsibilities to a lot of children,” he said, adding that basic care was not provided for many and “more critically they are not directing what happens when they finish their sentence”.
Care plans were rarely reviewed and there had been cases where young people have lost their right to early release because local authorities had failed to secure accommodation from which the young person could be tagged.
He said part of the problem was that professionals “get muddled about who is doing what” for young people in custody.
“There should be a named person who takes responsibility,” he urged.
The 30-year-old charity, which provides advocacy services for 3,500 children a year, decided to change its name because many young people it works with, including those in custody and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, do not see themselves as in care.