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The APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers has launched its Spotlight Inquiry, which aims to shine a light on the care system – or systems – across the country.

In January 2021, the government launched the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, led by Josh MacAlister as Chair. The review has been billed as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to bring about radical change to a system too often failing the children, young people and families it should be supporting. In response, the APPG for Looked After Children and Care Leavers has launched its Spotlight Inquiry, gathering valuable evidence and insights to inform the review.

Exploring care and community 

We want to put the spotlight on how experiences in and after care can be improved in ways which recognise and harness communities. This is particularly significant in early 2021 as the country continues its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The close community ties which allowed the pandemic to spread so rapidly were also those which gave many strength and resolve in the face of crisis.

However, to truly ‘build back better’ and ‘level up’ our communities, we must recognise those who have been most impacted by the pandemic. Care-experienced young people often report feeling less connected to their communities – dislocated from where they may have been before and stigmatised where they may be now. Navigating messy concepts of identity and belonging is often even more difficult for care-experienced people given the instability, inconsistent relationships, and lack of agency experienced by many before, during and after their time in care.

The care system is too facing a moment where it risks destabilising further young people’s connections to the communities that matter to them. Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the number of children living outside of their local area, complicated by a deepening postcode lottery of support and provision, and continued public misunderstanding about what it means to be in or leaving care.

Any successful review of children’s social care must consider the power of community, we’re excited about how the Spotlight Inquiry can support the review in its difficult task. At the end, we'll understand more about when and how care-experienced young people have been supported well to have stronger relationships with their communities, and where wider communities have been supported to understand and respect their care-experienced members.

"Identity is often lost when you're in a system of processes and structures."
-APPG attendee in 2019

How to get involved

Regional evidence sessions

 

As part of the Spotlight Inquiry, the APPG is coordinating a series of online regional evidence sessions, chaired by local MPs, to gather evidence and hear about some of the innovative work happening across the country. These meetings will welcome care-experienced young people and adults, carers, professionals and others with an interest in improving the care system to feed into the review of children’s social care.

Further details on upcoming sessions will be added to this webpage soon, but please subscribe to the APPG mailing list to receive notification when booking goes live.

Reaching out

 

The APPG will also reach out directly to hear from other groups of care-experienced young people where they are most comfortable to share their views.

If you’re part of or supporting a group of children in care or care leavers – possibly as a children in care council or care leaver forum in a local authority, participation group through a fostering or residential care provider, a charity, community or peer group, through a place of education or elsewhere – and you’d like to contribute to the Inquiry through your own online session, please let us know through the form linked above or by emailing appg@becomecharity.org.uk.

Call for evidence

 

In addition, we've opened our call for evidence and encourage submissions from anyone with personal or professional experiences of care, as well as organisations with an interest in improving the care system. You can share your views in any format you’d prefer – from written documents (bullet points are fine) to more creative methods and everything in between, including drawings, videos, photos, poems, songs or anything else.

Follow the link above to learn more about our call for evidence and how to contribute.