David Cameron has said that the care system “shames our country”, and pledged to “put it right”.
In a major speech at the Conservative Party conference today, the Prime Minister singled out children in care as a group needing more support, and said the government would aim to change outcomes for them in the next five years.
“Children in care today are almost guaranteed to live in poverty. 84% leave school without five good GCSEs, 70% of prostitutes were once in care, and tragically care leavers are four times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else,” Cameron said.
He added: “These children are in our care. We, the state, are their parents and what are we setting them up for? The dole? The streets? An early grave?
“I tell you this shames our country, and we will put it right.”
In his closing remarks, Cameron said that over the next five years the party would show that deep problems were “not inevitable”, and that a “childhood in care doesn’t mean a life of struggle”.
Taking over local authorities
Cameron also used his speech to reiterate commitments to take over failing social services. He compared local authorities to schools, and said: “Just as we said to failing schools, do a better job with our children or we’ll send new leaders in, so we’ll say to poorly performing social services: improve or be taken over.”
Getting “our best and our brightest” graduates into the frontline of social work, and improving the adoption rate, were also areas mentioned by the Prime Minister.
“Let us say today in this hall to all those children desperate for a family, and all those families yearning for a child, we, the Conservatives, we are the ones who will bring you together,” he said.