July 31, 2018 Blog

Falling through the cracks: how the system is failing care experienced young people

Justice and equality are at the heart of Labour values.

As a party, we will always fight for and with those who are oppressed, voiceless and underrepresented.

This report – Falling through the cracks – is an important contribution to that mission.

Its findings are shocking.

The research, undertaken by Kezia Dugdale and her researcher Ashley Cameron, who herself has experienced care, reveals that only six per cent of young people eligible for ‘continuing care’ after their 18th birthday have requested or been offered the option to remain in care.

That means, four years on from a supposed flagship reform by the Scottish Government, thousands or children are simply not being offered the support they are legally entitled to.

The year-long research work has also found that in many local authority areas the £5million-a-year provision is under-funded, and places additional pressure on already-stretched council budgets.

Several councils have exceeded the amount allocated, while others have spent the money to relieve pressures elsewhere.

Once again, we see the human price of Tory and SNP austerity with cuts hurting the youngest and most vulnerable in our communities.

And this price is not only paid in shattered dreams and unfulfilled potential.

The report also reveals that over the last decade at least 84 care-experienced young people in ‘secure care’ have died prematurely, with the most common reasons for the premature death of a care-experienced young person suicide, overdose, accidents and complex health issues.

Given figures are not available for those in foster or residential care, the true scale of this failure may be even deeper.

That is why I welcome the report’s recommendation to introduce Fatal Accident Inquiries for all cases where looked-after young people die suddenly or as the result of an accident.

Such a step would not be about apportioning blame, but rather establishing what is going wrong so we can stop it.

As a society, we have a moral responsibility to care for looked-after children and young people.

With this important report, we can begin to ensure that young people are given the care and support they need and deserve.

I would encourage you to take the time to read the full report here: http://www.keziadugdale.com/falling-through-the-cracks/