Ahead of next month’s General Election, the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT), is calling on all Britain’s political parties to step up and make children in care, foster carers and care experienced young people an important part of their election promises.
To that end TACT has produced its own manifesto – Call to Action, a plan that we urge all parties include in their manifestos, to transform the life chances for children and young people in care.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said: “TACT’s Call to Action highlights what government and local authorities should be doing to fulfil their responsibilities as corporate parents. Children and young people’s voices should always be heard in the design of policy for the care system. Unfortunately, far too often the state is not a good enough parent.”
Here are some of the actions we are calling for:
Automatic Delegated Authority for Foster Carers
Foster carers are experts on the children that they look after and should automatically have full delegated authority for all decisions about them unless there is a valid reason not to do so.
Foster Carers as personal advisors for their care experienced young people.
When young people have positive relationships with their foster carers, they should be given the option of having them as their personal adviser as a natural continuation of the foster carers’ role. This would enable foster carers and care experienced young people to continue their relationship with the financial support that will enable them to do this.
Waive or pay university tuition fees or offer a guaranteed apprenticeship for care experienced young people
Universities should guarantee undergraduate places for care experienced young people regardless of their age and financial support with a maintenance grant in place for living expenses and accommodation during term time, and outside of it.
Many young people will not wish to go to university and there should be a guaranteed apprenticeship for those care leavers. Local authorities and governmental agencies should also be offering appropriate employment opportunities.
More central government funding for Staying Put
‘Staying Put’ enables young people in foster care to remain with their carers until the age of 21. The future of ‘Staying Put’ is currently uncertain because funding is only secured until 2020/2021. Under funding and no guarantee of continuation to the scheme can leave carers unable to offer a continued home for their foster children when they reach 18.
Extend the current legislation prohibiting private for-profit companies from running child protection services to all of children social care services.
Private equity firms are increasingly present in the fostering market, buying and selling independent fostering agencies and making substantial gains in the process. More transparency and accountability is needed, with resources remaining within each provider to ensure a total focus on the needs of children and young people.
For more information, comment and interviews please contact TACT Communications Manager Laura Luxton on 07793580418 or email: [email protected]