What I want to see from the Children's Social Care Review
Jakeb has been talking to us about what he wants to see from the Independent Children’s Social Care Review. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing Jakeb’s reflections on his care experience and his ambitions for the review.
A little bit about me. I grew up in the care system in the 1970s and 80s and it left me with a lot of trauma. I was in and out of care three times between the ages of one and five and then permanently in care from age five to 18.
I've worked across a wide variety of organisations and sectors to use my experience of care to improve knowledge and create change for children in care and care leavers. In my last job I produced one of the biggest health and wellbeing surveys of looked after children and care leavers, a resource called 45 care leaver ways and a commissioning toolkit for local authorities and clinical commissioning groups.
So, the care system is having another review.
Despite good intentions, it feels like the most important people are going to be left out of the review - the people in the care system now and the people who grew up in the care system like myself.
I feel quite strongly that the whole system needs to be rebuilt. There are some bits of good practice and there is some good work happening, however, it's not a great experience for many of us.
I think Josh MacAlister and the people involved with the review should start with a question:
Would they put their own children in the current care system as it stands now?
If they say yes, they are lying. If they say no, that tells us all we need to know. If the system is not good enough for their children, then it's not good enough for any child.
Then they need to look at how can we provide the most loving, compassionate, caring, understanding, empathetic, supportive environment for these children to grow up in.
We are seven times more likely than the rest of our population to die before the age of 25. We are 40 times more likely to be in the criminal justice system, around 30 times more likely to be homeless and around 30 times more likely to be involved in sex work.
This isn't because we are bad people, this is because we have been let down by the system and have fallen through the gaps. But there is some positivity, around 6% of us aged 18 – 25 go to university however this is much smaller than the number of people who didn’t grow up in care who go to university.
I want to see a commitment to reduce those awful statistics and a commitment to review how care experience success is reported. The current focus is purely on academic success, but I want to see a commitment to report on general successes and outcomes in a holistic way. So if they want to be a car mechanic, a hairdresser, a fitness instructor or to be a parent, whatever it is, it should be promoted and measured as a positive outcome. I believe this would support healing from trauma along with improving emotional, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
We need to put an end to jargon - do away with the term corporate parent. Do away with the acronym LAC (looked after child). End the use of terms such as placements. When you're saying placement it's like you're saying that a young person is an object, not a person who is carrying a lot of pain from their childhood experiences. A person needs love, compassion and understanding instead of being treated like objects. Terms like export and import should never be used when we are talking about a young person.
Having different social workers and multiple foster carer or children’s home changes is obviously not good for stability or creating positive outcomes. It adds to the narrative that many of us have in our heads that we are bad people and somehow if we had been better, we would not have been abused and neglected by our parents.
We need to create an environment that is safe and takes care of the needs of young people who are from minority groups. The system should work sensitively to support these young people because they carry an increased level of anxiety.
I’d like to see an end to benefit sanctions against young people who are in the care system because it has absolutely catastrophic consequences as you can imagine.
All of this needs to be done with love and replicate the concept of a family. Not the traditional family from 30 years ago but the modern concept of a family that includes everyone around them who do everything they can to see a family succeed.
This requires a lot of money but it also needs a commitment from government, statutory and non-statutory organisations, voluntary organisations and private companies and the, of course, the general public to ensure that care experienced children know that they have their love and support.
Finally, there needs to be a commitment to end stigma and discrimination faced by care experienced people. I believe the best way to do this is to make care experienced people the 10th protected characteristic within the Equality Act.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create something new and build a care system that has a lifelong positive impact.
If you'd like to join Jakeb and share your views we'd love to hear from you. You can email Ali our Communications and Campaigns Manager and she'll arrange a time to chat: email@example.com