Children ‘Betrayed’ By Care System

{mosimage}The UK’s most vulnerable children are being “betrayed” by a care system that is guilty of a catalogue of failings, according to a damning report. The majority of young people leaving institutions are destined to become prostitutes, homeless or spend time in prison, the study states. Harriet Sergeant, author of Handle with Care: an investigation into the care system, said: “It is not just a tragedy for the individual. A successful system of care would transform this country. At a stroke it would empty a third of our prisons. It would halve the number of prostitutes, reduce by between a third and a half the number of homeless and remove 80% of Big Issue sellers from our street corners.

“Not only is our system failing the young people in care, it is failing society and perpetuating an underclass.”

The report says that out of the 6,000 people who leave care on average every year, 75% (4,500) will have no educational qualifications and within two years 50% will be unemployed, while 20% (1,200) will be homeless. Just one out of a hundred will make it to university.

In the year ending March 31 2005, 60,900 children were taken in care – most placed with foster parents or in children’s homes.

Failings of the care system included children being moved among foster carers too often, and homes focusing on short-term containment rather then the long-term well-being of the youngsters.

The report concluded the system should be reformed to provide “secure, stable, long-term and loving care for difficult children”.

New initiatives that might help children should be explored and young people should be tracked after leaving care in order to build up a true picture of how the system was working, it added.