Our Policy Focus
We work across a number of policy areas and with a range of different organisations to ensure that children in care and young care leavers get the stability, opportunities and the support they deserve.
School is a key part of all children’s lives. We believe that every teacher should receive training on how to most effectively support children in care, and that schools should create a positive learning environment for all, including their most vulnerable pupils.
Last year, we published our Teachers Who Care report which uncovered a significant gap in teacher training around the needs of looked after children, and recently responded to Ofsted’s new inspection framework. We’re concerned about emerging patterns in admissions, exclusions and ‘off-rolling’ and want to see better whole-school understanding of trauma and attachment so that children in care get the education they deserve.
Care-experienced learners are significantly under-represented at our universities. We believe that higher education institutions, further education colleges, government and other agencies should prioritise fair access and participation for care leavers and deliver targeted support.
In addition to managing the Propel website, we sit on the advisory board for a new quality mark project and advise individual institutions, local authorities and relevant bodies including NNECL, Office for Students, UCAS and the Department for Education on how to best support care-experienced learners within higher education. We want to see tailored outreach, real contextualised admissions and ambitious plans to support care leavers during and after university or college.
For too many, the care system does not provide the support needed to heal from pre-care experiences of trauma. We believe that radical changes are required to promote better mental and physical health for care-experienced young people.
We listen to care-experienced young people and challenge the NHS, the government and other organisations to hold young people’s health and wellbeing at the forefront of future planning, and we push for greater recognition of the emotional legacy of trauma for those with experience of care. We endeavour to bring the views of young people in and leaving care directly to decision makers and professionals working in healthcare settings.
Young people often tell us they feel stigmatised, labelled and judged as a result of their care experience by other young people, professionals and the general public. We want to lead a significant shift in how people understand and view care.
In 2017, we published Perceptions of Care which explored how children in care and young care leavers think other people, including teachers and social workers, view them. We consider how care intersects with other characteristics, including ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, to make sure the care system provides the best support it can, as equitably as it can, so all children and young people can develop their individual identities.
Extensive cuts to children’s services budgets are preventing local authorities from delivering the stability and care which looked after children deserve. We believe that young people’s needs and opinions need to be at the heart of an urgent review of the care system.
We ensure that decision makers within government, local authorities and elsewhere hear directly from those with lived experience about how to make the care system better. Recently, we successfully campaigned for the withdrawal of the government’s ‘myth busting’ guide to protect the rights of vulnerable children. Principles of Care, published in 2015, sets out our vision for a care system founded on enduring relationships and active listening.
In too many cases, the care system fails to provide young people with a stable place to live during or when leaving care. We need to reconfigure the current commissioning system and want to see decisions about where children live based on individual needs rather than cost.
Alongside young care-experienced members of our advisory group, we currently support Ofsted with their research examining the matching process for children in foster care. We’re concerned about unregulated accommodation and the lack of stability for children in care. We want care leavers to have better options and more choice – including through Staying Put or Staying Close arrangements – and to be considered as priority need for social housing until age 25.
Unfortunately, many young people in care report negative interactions with the police, often through no fault of their own. We also know that those with care experience are over-represented in the youth justice system.
We want to see better understanding from the police about what it means to be in care, and support recent work which aims to reduce the unnecessary criminalisation of looked after children and care leavers. We join networks connecting institution leads, HMPPS and others and listen to care-experienced young people in custody, working with the professionals supporting them to challenge poor practice when we see it.
We collaborate with other voluntary sector organisations to share our knowledge and work together to maximise our impact and make the biggest difference. We’re active members of groups and networks including:
Children England; Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers; Healthcare Policy Influencing Group; Ofsted Social Care National Consultative Forum; Standing Committee for Youth Justice; NNECL National Strategy Group; Social Work England Professional Expert Group; Alcohol and Families Alliance; Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition; Kinship Care Alliance.
More ways we improve the care system
Become was involved in setting up the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (APPG) in 1998 and has acted as secretariat for the group since then.
Care Day is the world’s biggest celebration of children and young people with care experience. Become has been leading these celebrations in England since the very first Care Day in 2016.
We respond to consultations from the government, Ofsted, Select Committees and other organisations to help shape policy and make it the best it can be for children in care and care leavers.