The Care Review was set up in early 2021 and published its report in May 2022.
Through our connections with Care Leavers Association and care experienced adults, we prepared a report and made several submissions about the need to completely overhaul the process to enable and support adults who had been in care get information about that time from case records. We believe that the standard process of making a Subject Access Request under data protection legislation is not suitable to meet the rights and unique needs of care leavers.
We are waiting to see how the government will respond to the many recommendations. Its first step was to propose a National Implementation Board of ‘sector experts’. Whether this will survive current changes in the Department of Education and at most senior level in government remains to be seen. We want to see that people with front line and lived experience of the care system are involved, not just ‘sector experts’. We will be doing everything we can to seize this opportunity, alongside proposals in the Data Reform Bill announced in the last Queen’s Speech, to get the government to commit to revising the current legal framework so that care experienced adults have a system where they are right at the centre of process with such supports in place as they wish to make use of.
The Final Report covers many key current and long standing issues about what is working and what is not and the need to invest over the long term in the rights and needs of any person who has been ‘cared for’ by the State.
Several of the recommendations in Chapter 6 of the Report are of most interest to us and care experienced adults. We were pleased to see our submission and links to our reports on the ACRCG website referred to in the text in this chapter.
- extend ‘corporate parenting’ duty to a wider set of public bodies and consider changing the language to “community parenting”
This will be of benefit to current children and young people in care but we think the next proposals may have more effective outcomes.
- Making care experience a ‘protected characteristic’ to reduce and actively tackle discrimination
We are discussing this in our Campaign Group and with CLA. We want to know the views of care experienced adults about what benefits they believe would follow from this proposal. We will come back to that in the weeks ahead.
Another proposal is:
- to require local authorities to ensure that every child in care is supported to have ‘life long links’ to carry into adulthood. This model is based on a project set up by the Family Rights Group
The Report proposes that
- The Care Leaver Covenant should be refreshed to align with the five missions of the review.
This is an area in which Darren Coyne and our colleagues at CLA did effective work to shape and get LAs to commit to. We are working to find a way to make the government commit to the needs of all care leavers, regardless of their age or when they were in care.
The adverse situation that some adult care leavers find themselves in impacts on their physical, emotional and mental health and the proposals for targeted and tailored health services for care experienced adults is welcome. We will pursue this with the Implementation Board and the Department of Health. In particular we welcome:
- …..health support should be provided to anyone with care experience when they are accessing care records.
This does not go far enough: we want to see skilled and empathetic workers responding to requests for care records and support tailored to meet individual need, respecting the rights and wishes of the care experienced adult. We are campaigning for proper resources together with a better legal framework to ensure all care experienced adults are supported to know about their time in care.
Our first step will be to get involved with the implementation group to work alongside care experienced adults to robustly push for changes in the process for getting care records. And, in the meantime, getting improvements and support for care experienced adults.
There’s much to do and we would welcome comments and ideas about taking this forward.