New regulations aim to give better support to children in care. But, writes Carolyne Willow, it appears that support ends at 16.
A year ago this week, the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, responded to a letter from the coroner who investigated the death of 17 year-old Jacob Bates. Jacob was one of the UK’s tens of thousands of children in care. He had autism. He took his own life after years of struggling with his mental health.
Having lived in “a succession of secure placements under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Children Act 1989” from the age of 14, Jacob was latterly put by children’s social care into an unregulated home, before deciding he wanted to live with his dad.
Although he found no causal link between Jacob’s death and his time in an unregulated setting, the coroner wrote to Williamson to prevent future deaths of 16 to 18 year-olds living in this kind of accommodation. Two former employees had told the inquest they were left in charge after only a short period working there, and neither had previously worked with young people. The local authority had not made appropriate checks on staffing and training or the organisation’s policies.
The coroner summed up: “The lack of statutory regulation is placing vulnerable young people at risk, and there is a realistic possibility that deaths may occur”.
Williamson assured the coroner, in February 2020, that “immediate and decisive action” would be taken to tackle the problem. He said a public consultation was underway. The outcome of that consultation was published last week, and it is nothing short of shameful…. READ ON at
Source Big Issue, 24 February 2021: It seems our government has decided some children don’t need care