On Tuesday (5th) in Parliament, Peers and MPs attended a drop-in session to meet the Every Child Leaving Care Matters (ECLCM) team and sign their petition to stop discrimination against children in residential children's homes and support all children and young people in care to 21 years of age.
Three years ago the government announced children in foster care would be allowed and supported to remain with their foster carers until they are 21 years old. Yet this did not include children and young people in children’s homes, even though they often care for the most vulnerable and disadvantages young people who may be unable to choose not to be fostered.
Since then, the ECLM team have campaigned to end the two tier system which they believe would create an underclass of children in care who have to leave care at 18. They were consulted by Sir Martin Narey in the course of his review into residential care and put forward proposals for children in residential care to stay in touch or stay close to the primary care staff they had grown to trust.
His report, ‘Residential Care in England’, published on Monday, urges the Government to commit to introducing Staying Close and recommends ECLCM should help officials in the Department for Education (DfE) to develop the reform including advising on the pilot schemes.
In response to Sir Martin’s report the Department for Education has said it is committed to introducing ‘Staying Close’ following a series of pilots for the scheme. Sir Martin Narey recommended ECLM help officials in the DfE to develop the reform, including advising on the selection and management of the pilots.
Bill Esterson MP for Sefton Central said,
“I am very pleased to support the great work being done by the Every Child Leaving Care Matters team. They may be a small group of volunteers but they are making a big difference to improve the lives of children who live in residential care. I am pleased to see that children in residential care are a step closer to being offered the same rights as those who grow up in foster care. But we must keep the pressure on until the system is fair for every child leaving care.”
You can find more details about the group by checking out their website ECLCM.org or on Twitter @rescareto21 or on Facebook. Their petition can be found at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/equality-of-leaving-age-for-all-children-in-care