Children leaving care need more opportunities

Children should never be able to leave care without the opportunity to get into a job or further education and without having somewhere to live, Community Care Live children and families heard today.

Mike Lindsay, head of advice at the Office of England’s Children’s Rights Director pointed out that local authorities are among “the single biggest providers of employment, accommodation and learning opportunities in their area” and said: “If you are acting as a good corporate parent you should take those children into your family business.”

Lindsay also said that children in care should have greater powers to make representation about issues affecting their care. He pointed out that Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, which refers to residence and contact orders in family proceedings, does not apply to looked-after children

He said: “The official answer [from the government] is that looked-after children don’t need that because the local authority, as a corporate parent, will make a decision in their best interest and even if they didn’t they have access to statutory complaints procedures.

“The only external remedy is for independent reviewing officers to refer cases to Cafcass under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 but it’s now 2006 and not one independent reviewing officer has ever exercised that power.”

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