Stepping Up, Stepping Down
How families make sense of working with welfare services
As part of the programme of work undertaken by the Your Family Your Voice Alliance, a report by Professors Featherstone & Morris has been published today (29.10.2018), presenting new research on families’ experiences of statutory intervention about their children. The report identifies the large amount of knowledge and practice wisdom carried by families and opens the door to possibilities of reforming our services from the ‘bottom up’.
Our briefing/amendments focus upon:
- Support to enhance the educational attainment of children who were looked after and have returned to the care of their parents;
- A right of looked after children to reasonable contact with their siblings;
- Improving the chances of care leavers, who are also young parents, being able to safely care for their children. This will include making it an explicit requirement that there is an assessment of the needs of any young parent/pregnant young person who is a care leaver and that they are provided with advice, assistance and support;
- Ensuring that appropriate counselling & therapeutic support is offered to any parent whose child is permanently removed in order to help them deal with their grief, have a mutually constructive relationship with their child even if they can't care for them and maximise their chances of keeping any future child, that they might have.
- Ensuring that foster for adoption (i.e. when a child is placed with a potential adopter who is an approved foster carer) is not used for voluntary accommodated children given that the parents may not have had access to legal advice and there may have been no court scrutiny or decision that their child should be permanently removed.
- We have also raised serious concerns about the unparalleled powers that Clauses 15-18 give to the Secretary of State to exempt a local authority from primary legislation and regulations.
The submission makes recommendations including the following:
To change the law so that young people who have been cared for in residential care who have reached the age of 18 years could 'stay put' in a placement linked to their residential placement and thereby maintain links with their key worker(s), until the age of 21.
That measures in the Immigration Bill to remove leaving care support from young people leaving care whose asylum or other claims to stay in the country have failed, are withdrawn.
That measures in the Immigration Bill to withdraw support for university fees from all migrant teenagers leaving care, are withdrawn.