Posted by Jamie at 8 54 PM on Saturday, November 14
FOSTER children and youngsters in care are to get extra help to find a job — with special careers advice and offers of apprenticeships.
The plan, to be announced tomorrow by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls, is part of a string of reforms designed to give the chance of a happier life to the 6,000 teenagers leaving their care homes next year.
He is taking action after Ministers in his department held meetings with kids and were shocked to hear them blast their treatment within the care system.
Mr Balls said: “I was horrified to learn that when children in care are moved between placements they’re often just given a binbag to put their possessions in.
“I want these young people to be treated with the dignity and care that we afford our own children.”
The Minister is urging all local authorities to get behind the government’s “From Care2Work” scheme, which promises care kids the opportunity of training, mentoring and access to jobs.
It already has the backing of 30 of the country’s biggest employers — including Tesco, O2, Aviva and Marks & Spencer. But Mr Balls demands more. “I want local authorities to put young people in care in the driving seat, by empowering them to contribute directly to making the care system better,” he said.
He points out that wide-ranging reforms introduced in 2007 are paying off, adding: “In just two years the number of young people achieving good GCSEs has doubled and many more are going into training and employment. But this is not enough.
“There must be a renewed effort from everyone involved in the lives of children in care to drive forward these ground-breaking reforms.”
Under the new scheme, local authorities must ensure their school system gives children in care the best chance of succeeding — including giving them priority to get into a suitable school.
Mr Balls will outline his proposals in a letter to each of the 60,000 young people currently in care. It will tell them: “We are changing the law so that you must be asked for your views before any major change in your life.
“We want to make sure you have the same chances as other children to fulfil your dreams and to be happy.”