Addressing the needs of children in care and keeping them out of trouble, 2015

Submitted by: The Prison Reform Trust and NCW Social and Employment Policy Committee

The National Council of Women noting with concern the disproportionate numbers of children in care, or who have experienced care, who are involved in the criminal justice system in England and Wales, also the variations across the country, and aware that:

  1. in a 2013 survey of 15-18 year olds in young offender institutions, a third of boys and 61% of girls said they had spent time in local authority care. This is despite fewer than 1% of all children in England being in care;
  2. in the year ending 31 March 2013, children in care aged between 10 and 17 years were more than five times as likely to be convicted or subject to a final warning or reprimand than other children (6.1% of children in care compared with 1.2% of children);
  3. for nearly two-thirds (62%) of children in care on 31 March 2014, the main reason they were in care was that they had suffered abuse or neglect;
  4. by taking a child into care local authorities aim to protect children from further harm, improve outcomes for them, and address a child’s basic need for good parenting;
  5. of all children in care on 31 March 2014, 22% had two placements during the year and 11% had three or more placements;
  6. in 2014 there was a difference of 40.1 percentage points between the rates of children in care and other children achieving five or more GCSEs and equivalents graded A*-C including English and Mathematics;
  7. two-thirds of children in care for whom data were available in 2013/14 had a special educational need (SEN), compared with 17.9% of all children in England.  The most common type of SEN for children in care was ‘behavioural, emotional and social difficulties’;
  8. early experiences can have a long-term impact on children’s emotional and physical health, social development, education and future employment.

Calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to:

  1. show strong leadership at national and local Government level to ensure that the British state is a good parent to children in care, transforming the life chances of the increasing numbers of children who spend time in care;
  2. work closely with local authorities and across government departments to ensure that the care system and other agencies operate proactively to protect children in care from getting into trouble and to support those who are in trouble to address their needs, gain knowledge and skills, and improve their life prospects;
  3. ensure that reliable and consistent data are collected locally and nationally, analysed and made accessible to the public so that local and national government can be made publicly accountable and progress can be measured;
  4. actively seek out and raise awareness of examples of local good practice which have been shown to help children in care stay out of trouble, so that these can become national standards;
  5. ensure that these measures are undertaken at national and local level through co-operation between government departments and local services – children’s services, health, education, housing, police and criminal justice amongst others
  6. and that they are driven forward by strong leadership at the highest level, and by structures for   delivery that ensure transparency and accountability.
Back to Resolutions