White paper to set out government proposals for children in care

A white paper to take forward the government’s plans for looked-after children will be published later this year, the Department for Education and Skills announced today.

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes also published the responses to a consultation on the looked-after children green paper Care Matters which was published last October.

More than 12,000 looked-after children who responded to Care Matters said councils should make a series of promises to those in care, and 94% wanted social workers to spend more time with them.

Most children said they should have one consistent professional throughout their time in care and a choice as to when to leave care between the ages of 16 and 21, according to the consultation.

They also wanted children in care to have the opportunity to go to a boarding school as an alternative placement and to have access to a personal adviser until the age of 25.

There were mixed views in the consultation over whether the government should try to reduce the number of young people in care, with some concerns that it would lead to children not going into care when it was in their best interests.

Education secretary Alan Johnson said today the white paper would mean an “overhaul” of the care system using the “radical ideas” emerging from the consultation.

Pilots based on some of the ideas will be run throughout the country.

Announcing the Care Matters consultation response at Millfields School in Hackney in London, Beverley Hughes said:  “We can see that there is a genuine compassion and commitment to making a real difference to the lives of children and young people in care. Our duty is to make sure they get the things that we as parents want for our own children. Above all, it’s about responding to the needs of children in care in a sufficiently human way.”

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