Friday, February 24, 2012

A reminder that the state is a bad parent

I didn't watch the BBC series Protecting Our Children, but the reviews and the reactions of people on Twitter suggested that it was very good.

But I sensed from this reaction that behind it was the idea that if a child was taken into care then, if it could hardly be called a happy ending, it did at least mean that the child was no longer at risk of harm.

Judging by a report in the Guardian this morning, that may be an overoptimistic view:
More than half of children in care are given less than a week's notice before being moved to live in a different placement, a survey has found. 
The annual Children's Care Monitor found that 55% were given seven days' notice or less, while nearly one in four (23%) was only told they had to go on the day of their move.
It gets worse (though not entirely clear):
The report also found that 29% of care-leavers taking part in the survey were not in either education, employment or training. The percentage of those leaving care who had work or training has fallen from 17% in 2009 to just 12% now.
The national director for learning and skills, Matthew Coffey, expressed concern that many young people were leaving care without a job, training place or course of study to go to.
Coffey said: "It is worrying that the percentage of care-leavers in work or training has been steadily falling from 17% in 2009, to 15% in 2010 and down again to 12% in 2011. 
"Of those about to leave care, it is equally concerning that the percentage saying they receive help in finding work fell from 60% last year to 52% this year."
I have been seeing depressing figures like this for as long as I can remember, and once quoted some of them in a post referencing an article in an educational psychology newsletter.

When Frank Dobson became health secretary in 1997 he seemed genuinely ashamed of the poor outcomes for children in public care and determined to do something about them. I now wonder if he had much success.

But some people are still trying to make things better. The other day at work I came across the YoungMinds report Improving the mental health of looked after young people: An exploration of mental health stigma.  You can download the whole thing from that page.

There are no easy answers here, but we can at least be honest about that.


Anonymous said...

Heh - I was reading "From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State" by David Beito a couple of weeks ago. It's all about the mutual/fraternal/friendly societies and their demise as state institutions took over their work.

There's a great story about something called Mooseheart, a "children's city" established by the "Loyal Order of the Moose", one such mainly working class friendly societies, to care of children who have lost one or more parent who was a member.

It was established in the early twenties, and soon had 1300 kids, living in as close to a family environment as they could manage to provide.

By the early thirties 35% of its residents were graduating into higher education, at a time when in the general population it was more like 7%.

Alas the Order itself is more of a charitable club these days, and its members fees pay for the continuing Mooseheart together with some retirement homes that were originally for retired workers who were members when it was a friendly society proper. But Mooseheart goes from strength to strength albeit not simply serving the orphans of Moose order insured members.

jockox3 said...

Oh, that wasn't meant to be anonymous. 'twas me, Jock!