20 Apr 2009

Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children's Society, comments on the Children, Schools and Families' Select Committee report on looked-after children:

“The Children's Society wholeheartedly agrees with the Committee's conclusion that the most important way of making childhood better for looked-after children is to help them develop strong relationships, and that far more needs to be done to support and nurture this.

 We believe that greater emphasis is needed on really listening to children and young people and understanding their needs and experiences and so we warmly welcome the Committee’s recognition of the distinct role of independent advocates.  We are glad that they have joined our call for all looked after children to have access to advocacy services whenever decisions are being taken about their lives.

The Government must also heed the Committee's warning that the state, in its role as parent, often fails some of the most marginalised looked after children because it does not do enough to ensure that the criminal justice and asylum systems give appropriate consideration to their needs.

 We have particular concerns about the treatment of looked-after children seeking asylum, and call on the Government to implement the recommendation that the DCSF assume formal joint responsibility with the Home Office for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children as a matter of urgency.”