Today, the #KeepCaringTo18 campaign group launches a call to action for 16 and 17 year-olds living in England.
The campaign group wants to know what care looks and feels like to 16 and 17 year-olds, to help influence government policy. The views of all 16 and 17 year-olds are sought no matter where in England they live. The online survey can be found here.
Earlier this year, the MacAlister Care Review recommended that all children in care should receive care where they live by 2025. The campaign group wants government to commit to this immediately, and believes the views and experiences of 16 and 17 year-olds can help make this happen.
Government data published this week shows that 7,470 16 and 17 year-olds in care (37% of that total age group in care) are living in semi-independent or independent accommodation, including flats, bedsits, hostels and shared houses. In these types of accommodation, teenagers are entitled only to ‘support’, not care where they live.
Back in February 2022, a delegation of care experienced people handed in a petition signed by over 10,800 care experienced people, social workers, academics, sector professionals, and members of the public. Together, they called upon the government to extend the ban on unregulated, ‘care-less’ accommodation for children aged 15 and under to those aged 16 and 17.
The government has so far taken no steps towards ensuring every child in care receives care. Instead, it is investing over £140 million into introducing standards for accommodation for 16- and 17-year-olds which deliberately omit any requirement to provide care.
It’s hoped 16 and 17 year-olds all over the country will join this vital action; the online survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and can be found here.
Carolyne Willow, Director of Article 39, said:
“Today marks 33 years since the United Nations agreed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which gives every child the right to be safe, heard and respected, and to have their needs met throughout their childhood. We know that children and young people are massively committed to fairness and to everyone having their fundamental rights respected. We’re counting on 16 and 17 year-olds everywhere to join this action. We need your voices, energy and compassion to make government listen.”
Bekah Pierre, a care experienced campaigner who lived in unregulated accommodation as a teenager, said:
“This generation of 16 and 17 year-olds are a mighty force for change – your compassion, political knowledge and sense of justice far outweighs that of those in Parliament. Today, we need you more than ever. A little over 10 years ago, I was a vulnerable young person with significant mental health needs, living in a hostel with on/off access to food, electricity, and no one to come home to at the end of the day. I felt unseen, unheard and desperately unsafe living with former adult prisoners. This dire state of affairs continues today and is worse than ever – by spending 10 minutes on this survey, you can be the voice your peers need to end this disgrace”
Lucy Croxton, the Together Trust’s Campaigns Manager, said:
“It is vital that the government hears from 16- and 17-year-olds about what care means to them. There are currently no young people sitting on the Children’s Social Care National Implementation Board. Decisions about young people’s futures must not be made without them.”
- The #KeepCaringTo18 campaign is run by a steering group comprising Amour Destiné, Article 39, The Care Leavers’ Association, Just for Kids Law, the Together Trust and several children’s rights campaigners. Find out more here.
- The United Nations agreed the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1989.
- The ‘What does care mean to you’ survey will run until the end of the year.