Who will care for our vulnerable ‘Looked After Children’ in a care-less society?

There was a news report this morning about an investigation by MPs finding "serious weaknesses" in England's care system that showed children's homes failed to protect runaways.

Children's Minister Tim Loughton said "urgent steps" would be taken. Much of the criticism by the all-party parliamentary groups on children in care and on runaways and missing people focuses on homes where about 5,000 of the 65,000 of those in care are looked after. The report, first highlighted by BBC Two's Newsnight programme earlier this month, says the system of residential care is "not fit for purpose" for children who just disappear from the system.

It is very timely that this was mentioned this morning, following the Towards a Positive Future Conference that I spoke at at the weekend. I was going to write about my part in that that today, but it will have to wait because I want to tell you about one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard.

Another speaker at the conference was Child Psychologist and former headteacher, Charlie Mead. Charlie works with children from around 35 homes in the Midlands and the South West. In a talk entitled "The Care-less System" he told of how Looked After Children lose not only their families but also their voices. Many are not in school because schools won't take them. Charlie said that service heads and agencies are unengaged, denying responsibility for what happens to these, our most vulnerable, young people.

Most have some kind of special need whether it is educational, emotional, social or behavioural. They do not have loving parents to fight for them. Many simply disappear and fall into the hands of drugs runners, sexual exploiters and ultimately, the criminal justice system. All because no one cared about them enough to give them a home, a school place or love of any description.

I will be bringing you Charlie's speech in more detail in the next week or so, because it is vitally important that you read it. And not just read it, but do something to help these abandoned children who are living among us, invisible and ignored.

It is all our responsibility to help. Why should my children or your children have the best of what we can give them while these children are rejected through no fault of their own?

I really want to highlight this issue and want to call on you all to help me do this too.

Tania Tirraoro
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Zoë

This breaks my heart. It has a devastating impact on these children, and ultimately on the whole of society. Broken children grow up to be broken adults. You’d think in our money-conscious era we’d figure out that leaving these kids to rot actually costs the state tremendously in the longer-term through benefits, physical and mental health problems, criminality, etc., but politicians just like to look good. They don’t seem to be interested in real, long-term solutions. They just don’t care. children dying in three years is abuse. Why is it not making national headlines, like when a child is murdered… Read more »

Emma

We could blame the officers of the Borough which all these family suffers from. Why? Because as a parent myself to a special need child has been tremendously struggling to convince them to support our wish for a better place of school for them, but because most of these people has no children of their own has no feelings or regard and care of them, so looking already this kids who has difficulties of understanding of everyday life the parents are exhausted and in short they felt powerless and will give up! We have to change the system that people… Read more »

Emma

Thank you for all those of you who have been kind and understanding to the needs of these children who are unfortunate! Why not change these heartless officers who are working just to get their wages from but who has no care of the impact both child and parents? There should be a reform to this handling cases of care to these so children would feel needed and understanding?? If only I myself have the finance I would like to investigate how they enforce work and change the tactics and create a loving place for them?