Article 39 has submitted to the Children’s residential care review, which issued a call for evidence at the end of October 2015.
We urge the Review to vigorously defend the rights and safeguards that have evolved for children and young people in care over the past 25 years, and underline the leading role played by children, young people and adults with care experience who campaigned for these positive developments. Our specific recommendations include:
- The introduction of a statutory, overaching purpose of care, which emphasises recovery from past harm and looked after children’s entitlements to support and services
- Regular review and strengthening of safeguards, to ensure the most effective rights protection, and the same safeguards to apply to children living in different institutional settings
- The rejection of child imprisonment and recognition of the superior model of secure care offered by secure children’s homes
- Ensuring children and young people’s own measures of ‘what works’ are integrated into the Review’s framework for assessing residential care.
We also highlight the enormous importance of sibling relationships; the need for improved support as young people approach adulthood; and the reality that abuse still happens in residential care. In response to government concerns about value for money, we note the justfiable high cost of other welfare services for children and the absence of any research to indicate taxpayers begrudge contributing to the care and protection of children unable to live with their families. We also urge the Review to avoid perpetuating negative messages about children and young people in the care system.