Voices of care-experienced children and young people must be at the heart of government care review, says Coram Voice report

Published: Thursday 12th November 2020

The voices of care-experienced children and young people must be at the heart of the Government’s imminent review of children’s social care – that is the message of a briefing published today by Coram Voice and the Rees Centre that gives care-experienced young people the opportunity to tell policy makers directly how they believe the current system needs to change.

The Voices of Children in Care and Care Leavers on What Makes Life Good focuses on what care-experienced children and young people have said about their wellbeing, drawing on Coram Voice’s ongoing work with thousands of care-experience children and young people.

In its introduction the briefing says: “The state, as their parent, often does not fully know what matters to the children and young people it cares for. Official statistics used to monitor the care system provide only a partial picture of children in care and care leavers’ lives by focusing on objective measures and adult assessments of how children and young people are doing. This does not tell us what being in care is like for children and young people.”

Drawing on learning from the Coram Voice  Bright Spots programme, a partnership with the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford, the briefing sets out key calls from the children and young people who collaborated in its publication. These include:

  • Supporting children in care and care leavers to keep and develop their relationships with those that are important to them
  • Helping children and young people to participate in decisions, understand the system and their rights and be free from discrimination
  • Giving children and young people a chance to learn how to manage the challenges in life and have the opportunities they need
  • Supporting children and young people to come to terms with what has happened to them and make them feel that they have the same value as other children.
  • Developing services that care leavers can trust to be there for them when they need them and support staff to be caring, available and actively engage care leaver.
  • Supporting young people to manage the challenges of independent living.
  • Helping care leavers feel better about themselves and their lives by providing emotional support.

Linda Briheim-Crookall Head of Policy and Practice Development at Coram Voice said:

“When developing policy and practice in the care system, the key question should be - will children in care and care leavers feel that their lives got better as a result?

“Government and those leading the Care Review should use the Bright Spots indicators and what we have learned from the thousands of care experienced voices who have responded to our surveys to establish a care system that not only keeps young people safe but helps them to flourish, by designing services and providing support focused on what wellbeing is to them.”

Brigid Robinson, Managing Director of Coram Voice said: “We feel that in order to have a full and effective Care Review, the voices of children and young people in care and care leavers must be at the heart of the process.

“Through our surveys, Coram Voice has heard from an unprecedented number of children and young people about their experiences in care. This is vital work and the findings should be used to help shape and improve the care system.

“We hope to see the Care Review explore measures to improve wellbeing for care experienced children and young people and put them at the heart of any decisions made about them.”

You can read the full report here. The Bright Spots Programme helps services to hear young people’s voices through the ‘Your Life Your Care’ and the ‘Your Life Beyond Care’ surveys, which were co-produced with almost 200 children in care and care leavers. To date we have worked with over 50 local authorities to systematically survey more than 10,000 care experienced children and young people aged 4 to 25 years old, providing unprecedented insights into their lives.