There was a news report this morning about an investigation by MPs finding "serious weaknesses" in England's care system that showed children's homes failed to protect runaways.
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said "urgent steps" would be taken. Much of the criticism by the all-party parliamentary groups on children in care and on runaways and missing people focuses on homes where about 5,000 of the 65,000 of those in care are looked after. The report, first highlighted by BBC Two's Newsnight programme earlier this month, says the system of residential care is "not fit for purpose" for children who just disappear from the system.
It is very timely that this was mentioned this morning, following the Towards a Positive Future Conference that I spoke at at the weekend. I was going to write about my part in that that today, but it will have to wait because I want to tell you about one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard.
Another speaker at the conference was Child Psychologist and former headteacher, Charlie Mead. Charlie works with children from around 35 homes in the Midlands and the South West. In a talk entitled "The Care-less System" he told of how Looked After Children lose not only their families but also their voices. Many are not in school because schools won't take them. Charlie said that service heads and agencies are unengaged, denying responsibility for what happens to these, our most vulnerable, young people.
Most have some kind of special need whether it is educational, emotional, social or behavioural. They do not have loving parents to fight for them. Many simply disappear and fall into the hands of drugs runners, sexual exploiters and ultimately, the criminal justice system. All because no one cared about them enough to give them a home, a school place or love of any description.
I will be bringing you Charlie's speech in more detail in the next week or so, because it is vitally important that you read it. And not just read it, but do something to help these abandoned children who are living among us, invisible and ignored.
It is all our responsibility to help. Why should my children or your children have the best of what we can give them while these children are rejected through no fault of their own?
I really want to highlight this issue and want to call on you all to help me do this too.
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