Children in care are
being shunted from one temporary foster family to another after the
failure of government plans to ensure more youngsters win permanent homes.
Tony Blair - whose father Leo was
fostered out as a baby by his actor parents - took personal charge
of an overhaul of adoption during the last Parliament, promising to
give hundreds more children a chance of normal family life.
However, two key targets set for local authorities by his
Government two years ago have not been met. The first was to cut the
number of placements - such as being switched between foster
families and residential homes - children experience in a year.
A second target, to boost the school performance of children in
care, has also flopped, with only 37 per cent emerging from care
with at least one examination pass last year - against a target of
50 per cent.
A Department of Health progress report admits 'significant
improvements will need to be made quickly' to hit the target of 75
per cent of children leaving care with at least one exam pass by
Liberal Democrat MP Sandra Gidley, who uncovered the figures,
described them as 'shocking'. She said: 'Children need stability and
this issue has for too long been neglected.'
The Government is still on track on its main pledge, to ensure
that more children get adopted rather than languish in children's
homes. Two-thirds of those in care are fostered - temporarily or
hoping for permanent parents.
Health Ministers are seeking to increase recruitment of potential
carers, amid warnings that a shortage had forced social workers into
making some unsuitable matches.
But the disappointing figures will pile pressure on this year's
round of Treasury spending negotiations. Education Ministers want
more cash to pay for extra classroom helpers for difficult pupils,
while the Department of Health is seeking extra funding for social
Children in care 'being let down'
Doctors 'Who Take Away Your
Press Association May 19th 2005
Children in care
should be sent to the best schools to boost their chances of
overcoming child abuse and neglect according to
Young people who survive severe abuse are being "let down" by
councils that fail to support them, a study from the Institute of
Education in London found.
Students who were taken into care as children because their
parents abused them, were drug addicts or alcoholics, go on to
perform well at university, the report said.
But many are put off applying because they believe they cannot
rely on support from their local authority, according to the
pioneering five-year project.
The study, sponsored by child support charity the Frank Buttle
Trust, found fewer than one in 100 children leaving care go on to
This compared with nearly half of young people living with their
own families, according to the researchers, led by Professor Sonia
But after tracking 129 students at 68 universities, the
researchers found that care leavers were less likely to drop out of
their studies than the average student in the UK.
The national drop out rate is currently 14%, but among the group
of care leavers in the study, the rate fell to 10%.
A third of the students from care backgrounds - 33% - had
graduated by the end of the study, 39% were still studying for their
Only one student in the group had failed their course.