Children in care ‘more worried about education and home life’ than their peers

Children in care are more worried about having a good education, getting on well with family and having a nice home than other children, a report suggests.

Dame Rachel de Souza (pictured), the Children’s Commissioner for England, has warned key elements of a good childhood are “too often” missing for children in care.

An analysis by the Children’s Commissioner and children’s charity Coram has found children in foster care are more concerned about many aspects of their life than all other children.

Of those who responded to the Children’s Commissioner’s survey of youngsters in England, The Big Ask, nearly one in four (24%) of children in foster care aged between nine and 17, were worried about having a good education, compared with 18% of other children.

They were also more likely to report being worried about getting on well with their current family (18% compared with 14%), and having a nice home to live in (28% compared with 24%).

The report also suggests that one in ten children in foster care aged between six and eight, were unhappy with family life, compared to 7% of children not in foster care.

In April 2021, the Children’s Commissioner launched The Big Ask survey of children in England for approximately six weeks and it gathered more than 550,000 responses.

The latest report analyses the responses by 2,261 children in care – aged between six and 17 – in England who provided written comments in the survey.

The responses were compared with a survey of children known to be in care in England, Your Life, Your Care, where Coram Voice and the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford collected nearly 9,500 responses between 2016-2021.

The analysis comes as the Government is due to publish its response to the independent review into children’s social care.

The landmark review by former teacher Josh MacAlister, called for a “radical reset” to improve the lives of children in care and their families.

Dame Rachel said: “We know from The Big Ask that children in care want the same security and stability of home, relationships and education as all other children. However, too often it is these essential elements of a good childhood that are missing for children in care.”

She added: “We all have a role to play in providing a shield of support around children in care that mirrors the protective effect of family and allows them to be ambitious for their futures.

“The publication of the Government’s strategy to reform children’s social care provides us with a unique opportunity to reform the lives of children in care, and I will be relentless in pushing for the changes we need to see.”

Coram chief executive Dr Carol Homden said: “It is good news that the happiness of children in care is broadly similar to that of children in general.

“However, this new analysis also reveals that children in care are more worried than other children about some aspects of their lives: education, family relationships and where they live.

“If we focus on these three areas and listen to children about what matters to them most, we can close the gap even further and ensure children in care have the best possible chance in life“.

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