Posted: 06 June 2015

Handle with Care: helping young people in the care system

Children in care who are placed out of their home town are often the victims of 'hard' decisions. ‘Hard’ in this case because these decisions are definite, large and unchangeable. These decisions affect all aspects of their lives. 

Where they live is often short term – a 'crisis' placement, or an 'assessment' placement - running from one week to three months generally.  Young people are given the impression that 'This is where you are for now, but we don’t know where you will be in the future'.

Due to the distances they are moved, these young people are visited less. Generally when they are visited, it is for a review, or due to a crisis such as an emergency meeting to look at a change of placement or due to an incident.

These are the big decisions that these young people are dealing with, leaving little time for the everyday aspects of teenage life such as friendships and the building of their identity; which are both jeopardised when they are moving so regularly. Many of these young people are denied the experience of growing up with a group of friends; a huge element of most teenage lives. Is it any wonder that they can often form unhealthy relationships with people who tell them they care for them, and who they can 'have a laugh’ with?

The vital role of children's services

The involvement of children's services to resolve these hard issues is vital. Having worked in this role for over 6 years, I find that I am sometimes the only consistent person in some young people’s lives – someone who they can share memories with - because I’m the only person who remembers how they felt three or four years ago.

I would like all young people to have someone with the time to help them with the softer elements of life, a consistent presence whose focus is to support the young person as they shape their identity, and can share memories with them.  Someone who stays in contact despite all the moves, and supports the young person’s wellbeing over time – not just while their current placement lasts.

When a young person in care has to move, the support they need to settle and thrive should move with them. Adopting the recommendations of our latest campaign Handle with Care would support young people placed out of area and would make life easier for them. It would ensure  consistency and that aspects of their childhood are protected  whilst moving and being away from their home town.

How you can make a difference

When a child in care is placed away from home, the support they need to settle and thrive should move with them. Nearly two thousand young children in care in Greater Manchester are in placements away from their home area.

Sign our Handle with Care petition and ensure that young people and children in care are listened to, protected and supported.

SIGN THE PETITION

By Rod Kippen - Programme staff