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In January 2021, the government launched the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, led by Josh MacAlister as Chair. In response, the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers launched the Spotlight Inquiry, gathering valuable evidence and insights around care and community to inform the review and its recommendations.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the evidence-gathering phase of the Spotlight Inquiry by submitting evidence through text, artwork or video, attending a regional online evidence session hosted by a local MP, or by joining in a young person's session on care and community. We're incredibly grateful for your insights and expertise. We're currently analysing all of the views and recommendations gathered and will be sharing what we've heard in Autumn 2021. For further updates, please subscribe to the APPG mailing list.

 

What's happened so far?

Regional evidence sessions

 

Each chaired by a local MP, the online regional evidence sessions welcomed those with different personal and professional experiences of care to share their views on care and community in their area. 

View the notes from each regional evidence session below.

Reaching out

 

The APPG also reached out directly to hear from groups of care-experienced young people where they are most comfortable to share their views.

This included children in care council and care leaver forums within local authorities, participation groups from fostering or residential care providers, charities, and others. 

Call for evidence

 

Our call for evidence closed in July. This encouraged submissions from anyone with personal or professional experiences of care, as well as organisations with an interest in improving the care system. Individuals and organisations were able to share their views in any format they'd prefer – from written documents to more creative methods and everything in between, including drawings, videos, photos, poems and songs.

Exploring care and community

We want to put the spotlight on how experiences in and after care can be improved in ways which recognise and harness communities. This is particularly significant in early 2021 as the country continues its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The close community ties which allowed the pandemic to spread so rapidly were also those which gave many strength and resolve in the face of crisis.

However, to truly ‘build back better’ and ‘level up’ our communities, we must recognise those who have been most impacted by the pandemic. Care-experienced young people often report feeling less connected to their communities – dislocated from where they may have been before and stigmatised where they may be now. Navigating messy concepts of identity and belonging is often even more difficult for care-experienced people given the instability, inconsistent relationships, and lack of agency experienced by many before, during and after their time in care.

The care system is too facing a moment where it risks destabilising further young people’s connections to the communities that matter to them. Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the number of children living outside of their local area, complicated by a deepening postcode lottery of support and provision, and continued public misunderstanding about what it means to be in or leaving care.

Any successful review of children’s social care must consider the power of community, we’re excited about how the Spotlight Inquiry can support the review in its difficult task. At the end, we'll understand more about when and how care-experienced young people have been supported well to have stronger relationships with their communities, and where wider communities have been supported to understand and respect their care-experienced members.

"Identity is often lost when you're in a system of processes and structures."
-APPG attendee in 2019