Government urged to put weight behind mentors for children in care

Only three in 100 children in care in England receive the independent support they may legally be entitled to.

If it is in their interests, every child in the country has the right to an adult mentor who visits, befriends and advises them.

But a study by Barnardo’s and the National Independent Visitor Development Project revealed that two thirds of local authorities have a waiting list for children in care to be matched with an independent visitor.

Where there is no waiting list, not much is known of the services, with many not being aware of their existence.

To make sure children get the support they are legally entitled to, Barnardo’s and the National Independent Visitor Project are asking government, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations to consider signing up to a new set of quality standards.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan (pictured) said: “I urge Theresa May to ensure mentors are in place for young people who are at risk of dropping out of education, training or employment.

“Children in care already have a right to a mentor, but sadly our research shows they aren’t getting the support they need.

“A key aim of the Government’s new strategy for care leavers is to support them into adult life. Providing enough mentors and signing up to the new, quality standards for independent visitors will help it achieve this.”

The standards aim to ensure all children who need care understand their right to an independent visitor, services are specified to needs, proper processes are in place to train and recruit mentors, matching them with the right children.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:”Independent visitors can make a significant contribution to the well-being of children in care and the law is clear that local authorities must appoint an independent visitor where it’s in a child’s interest and they want one.

“Not all children in care will need or want an independent visitor but this should be kept under review by the child’s social worker and Independent reviewing officer.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Barnardo’s.