Over half of young children in care not told why they are there

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Four- to seven-year-old children who are unaware of why they are in care are more likely to have low well-being, finds new research.

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Younger children who took part in the study were more likely to say they didn't know who their social worker was

The study of 2,264 looked-after children and young people aged four to 18 across 16 local authorities, published today, reveals that of the 365 four- to seven-year-olds surveyed, 53 per cent thought it had not been fully explained to them why they were in care, and almost a quarter (23 per cent) were unsure of who their social worker was. Younger children were more likely to report this than older children.

As a result, these children were more likely to have low well-being and a few reported feeling very unsettled in their placements, not trusting their carers and not believing their carers noticed how they were feeling.

According to Coram Voice, part of children’s charity Coram, which carried out the research in partnership with the University of Bristol, the study, ‘Our Lives Our Care’, is the largest of its kind to measure the well-being of children in care.

It forms part of Coram Voice’s Bright Spots programme that enables local authorities to find out from young people in care what well-being means to them and what areas need to be more improved.

Findings from the four- to seven-year-olds who took part in the Our Lives Our Care study also show:

  • 89 per cent feel their carers notice their feelings;
  • 97 per cent always feel safe in placements;
  • The majority (97 per cent) have moderate to high well-being.

Chief executive of Coram Dr Carol Homden CBE, said, ‘It is encouraging to hear that such a large majority of children and young people in care feel their lives are improving and that for most, the care system is providing them with the safety, support and opportunities they need to thrive.

‘However, the results show us that we can and must take action to address the avoidable losses of care so that children feel “normal” and are able to do the same things as their friends, have an understanding of why they are where they are, and a part to play in decisions that affect them.’

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