The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England is now well underway. Launched in March 2021, the Review is looking at what works well and what needs to change in the children’s social care system in England to make sure children and young people get the support they need.

Leicestershire Cares has been engaging proactively with the Review since its launch, responding to its call for advice, sharing our learning with its Chair, Josh MacAlister, and raising awareness of the Review amongst our young people and partners.

Last month, we partnered with Drive Forward Foundation and wrote a letter to Josh MacAlister expressing concern that not enough young people or professionals were aware of the Review or how they could feed into it. In response, we were invited to a virtual meeting with Josh and Dan from the Care Review team, which we attended along with Drive Forward and some of their young people.

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The meeting was very positive with the Review team listening carefully to our comments and concerns, and responding constructively to each of these. The Review team set out how they had engaged with care experienced people and professionals so far, and their plans for the coming weeks.

The meeting also gave us the opportunity to provide direct feedback on the Review’s recently published Case for Change, which summarises its findings so far, following engagement with key stakeholders and a review of existing evidence.

Speaking with our young people, we found that many of our participants’ concerns were reflected in the Case for Change, and highlighted their key points on the need for change in the care system:

Communication is key: Young people need to know more about their rights and entitlements, be involved in decision making and feel that they are listened to (not just their carers). Key to this is workers providing feedback when YP raise issues and YP seeing changes happen as a result, otherwise they won’t see the point in engaging. Professionals also need to talk through options and consequences fully, not just deal with immediate issues facing young people.

Care experienced parents need more support: Young people feel that their identity as a care experienced person means they are scrutinised more than other young people, especially when they have their own children. They feel that the system is biased against them and workers use their pasts, rather than what they are currently doing, as reasons to remove children.

There is not enough love in the care system: Young people’s experience of real “care” is still down to one or two workers who genuinely care about young people and their futures. Genuine care and love is not embedded in the system, instead the focus is on risk management and bureaucracy. This means even when individual workers care and want to help, their managers/the “rules” can prevent them from doing so.

We need a cross-departmental approach to supporting care experienced people: Young people in care are not just the responsibility of social services or the Department for Education, but need a cross-government, cross-departmental approach to ensure they succeed in all areas of life.

Following the meeting, Leicestershire Cares submitted its response to the Case for Change, highlighting young people’s feedback and our Power to Change approach, which we feel provides a solid model for working with vulnerable young people in a joined up, agile and holistic way that is rooted in partnership working and a solid understanding of the local place and context.As the Care Review progresses, we look forward to continuing to engage with the Review team and its chair and will be encouraging our young people to take part in the upcoming Bridging the Gap events which will explore key issues in more detail.

This post was originally posted by Leicestershire Cares.