CHAIRED BY THE BARONESS YOUNG OF HORNSEY, OBE
Some 30 participants from voluntary agencies, local authorities, the Local Government Association, Ofsted, Spectra First, ACAL lawyers and others joined a lively by invitation ‘round table’ discussion to explore producing National Standards as a ‘stepping stone’ to achieving a legislative framework that will be fit for purpose for all adult care leavers wanting to access their records about their time in care.
MMU academic, Becky Clarke, who undertook research commissioned by The Care Leavers’ Association, presented her findings about the experience of 20 adult care leavers, the majority of whom were aged over 40 when they asked to see their care records. For most, this was a challenging and distressing process.
To read the report find click here
The ultimate aim of ACRCG is to achieve a legislative framework specifically for adult care leavers. We believe that legal duties including support services if they wish to use these and clarity about 3rd party information will significantly improve the process and the services adult care leavers receive.
ACRCG will now begin drafting the National Standards for wider consultation including with the Department for Education.
Group calls for national support framework for adults looking to access their childhood care records
Research exploring experiences of adult care leavers discussed at House of Lords roundtable event
Session chaired by Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE
Access to Care Records Campaign Group calls on Government to do more in their role of ‘corporate parent’
TUESDAY 27TH NOVEMBER 2018 – LONDON, UK – A leading campaign group has called for a national framework that guides local authorities and voluntary organisations to support adults who were in care as children and are now looking to access their care files.
The Access to Care Records Campaign Group is calling on the government to introduce a number of standardised measures to ensure those who access their care records are given sufficient support as they process their contents.
Today the campaign group reveals three strands of research which will be discussed at the House of Lords in a session to be chaired by the cross bench peer Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE.
The first report, published by The Care Leavers’ Association is the result of roundtable discussions across England led by Darren Coyne of CLA and Peter Garsden, President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, which has given invaluable support to the campaign group.
The second report, ‘Battling with a Care-less Process’ was commissioned by The Care Leavers’ Association from Becky Clarke, Senior Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University who interviewed 20 adult care leavers, the majority of whom were aged over 40, about their experiences of asking to see all their care records.
A Freedom of Information Analysis Report has also revealed that local authorities generally do not keep records of how many adult care leavers ask to see their care records and appear to have no systems in place to support them.
Each strand of research makes key recommendations as to how the government should be doing more to ensure a standardised approach for adult care leavers asking to see their care records.
These recommendations include:
- An effective process that makes it easier for data governance officers and professionals to share with adult care leavers more information from the records, including information about family members,.
- Avoiding redaction of files wherever possible, keeping accurate records whenever redaction is made and an explanation of the rationale.
- Offer support to all adult care leavers of any age across their life-span and keep open communication throughout the process.
- Provide detailed government guidance for data governance officers in relation to access to care records.
- Information for adult care leavers through diverse media sources about their right to see their care records and the support available to them to do so.
ACRCG believes that current data protection legislation, whilst allowing adult care leavers to access their personal information on their care records, is not designed to deal with requests for family history, information and decisions relating to a person’s time in care. Government did not use the opportunity during the passage through Parliament of the Data Protection Act 2018 to address the serious disadvantages adult care leavers experience.
ACRCG’s ambition is first to ensure the creation of National Standards applying across all sectors to support those adult care leavers making a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 2018.
Ultimately, the Group, working alongside adult care leavers, want to achieve ‘fit for purpose’ legislation which properly recognises the right of all people who grew up in the care of the State to have knowledge of their whole family history and to know what decisions and events have shaped their adult life.
Available for interview
- Darren Coyne, The Care Leavers’ Association
- Peter Garsden, President of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers
- Becky Clarke, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University
For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:
Following on from the research we commissioned Manchester Metropolitan University to write, Senior Lecturer Becky Clarke, who conducted the research, tried to interest the wider community in the research. She has written a very good blog on the subject entitled “Adult Care Leavers” Battling with a Care-Less Process which we link to here. It starts off:-
“Being removed from your family as a child and taken into the care of the state is inconceivable for many of us. Often the context is traumatic and, in 99% of cases, this intervention has nothing to do with the child’s behaviour. Yet the evidence reveals that down the line, when that child becomes an adult and seeks information about their family background and time in care, they experience a battle with a care-less process. Later this month the Access to Care Records Campaign Group (ACRCG) will hold an event in the House of Lords, with the aim of re-igniting action to address the legislative, policy and practice issues”…Read more
We are, of course, holding an event in the House of Lords for which see here
You can read another blog generated by Darren Coyne of the Care Leavers Association here
Key findings of the Freedom of Information request to all local authorities in England
- 1 in 6 councils had no records of the number of Subject Access Requests [SARs] made in a 12 month period by adult care leavers.
- Where councils did have records, there was wide variation as to the number of SARs made in any one year. The average was a fifth of all SARs received, and three councils reported SARs from adult care leavers were just over 50% of the total number of applications.
- The pattern of significant variation across England resonates with findings from other enquiries by the Access to Care Records Campaign Group [ACRCG] that despite statutory guidance on the need to have skilled staff to deal with these SARs and supports tailored to the individual’s needs, this is not evident