Looked after Children to remain in Foster Care until 21

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Chaworth Reunion 2013 – Jenny and 2 of her Residential Social Workers from 23 years ago.

The public concern for Looked after Children in Childrens Homes following the recent announcement for the provision of Looked after Children being able to remain in Foster Care until they are 21, is valid.

The announcement, http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25201336, is a welcome time to be positive about the Childrens and Families Bill, but not a time for complacency. The entire system, culture and policy within the Care System has been allowed to erode itself of the original values and principles which provided a safe haven for vulnerable children.
We can not underestimate the significance of the appalling historical abuse which occurred within Childrens Homes, and we cannot, ever, forget the children who lost their lives through an adequate safety net, devoid of the very principle upon which it carries in it’s title “Care” System.
Yet, the announcement does allow a welcome note of optimism that, finally, the Government is taking the needs of vulnerable children seriously.
It’s far too easy to be continuously negative about a system, which is dear to so many of us, but which failed at so many stages, to protect us.
The need for all Looked after Children to remain in Care until at least 21, is paramount to the quality of their loves as adults. By this I do not mean, that, if you are in Residential Care, you would need to remain in that Home, until you are 21. It may well be enough to have the full support of your key worker, from your Home, who will know you best, and will have built up a caring and protective relationship, to be by your side in times of need and celebration. The point that I make here is that, all children in Care are individuals, and should be given the opportunities that each unique child deserves.
Let’s not forget for a second that Residential and Area Social Workers, the good ones, want the same. Social Workers emotionally invest hugely in their young people, and watch with a heavy heart, kids leaving their Homes and caseloads, knowing that they should not have to break contact, and continued to want to be a part of their lives. After all, in many cases, Social Workers are all we have to claim our identity and past.
I know of many Social Workers who remain in contact, in secret, for fear of being labeled as “without boundaries”. It’s unjust for all.
The work continues to provide an equal, loving and emotionally healing “Care” System for all – we will not give up – we will not ignore any Looked after Child or Care Leaver, ever.
So. for the moment, rejoice in this moment of change, but, fear not, it’s only the beginning.
Much love
Jenny Aka Hackney Child
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