MPs have warned that England’s care system is in urgent need of review as it continually fails teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18.
A report by the Education Select Committee concluded that social workers are failing to recognise the signs of abuse and neglect in teens, leading to what it described as a “worrying picture” of the support available to young adults in care.
Although local authorities legally have a duty to protect all those under the age of 18, the committee said it feared that younger children were taking precedence over teens and that procedures need to be put in place to ensure that all under-18s are safeguarded effectively.
Politician Graham Stuart, who chaired the committee, said: “Care for older children is not good enough. They are let down too often, frequently ignored or not listened to, can be pushed out of care too young and insufficiently prepared and supported. This has to change.”
Recommendations from the committee included more education about the many forms of abuse, and encouragement for teenagers to report cases themselves.
After finding evidence that children are being left in dangerous situations for extended periods of time, the committee also highlighted the need for better training for social workers about the risks of neglect and abuse.
Many have praised the committee for highlighting issues that children in care are facing. Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, Matthew Reed, said:
“This is a very welcome and important report, which highlights that far too often children are treated as the problem … It is crucial children’s needs come first at all times — regardless of how old they are, where they come from or what circumstances they face.”
Labour spokeswoman for children and young people, Lisa Nandy, agreed that the report is important and that the government needs to take action.
She said: “Today’s report … shows that power relationships are still exploited and young people, particularly girls, are too often ignored or disbelieved when they report abuse. It underlines why the government is wrong to resist a public inquiry into recent allegations.”
Article by Abbie Cavendish