United Kingdom

Looked After Children 

Why do we seek to improve the outcomes for looked after children?

 

The outcomes for Looked After Children are exceptionally poor in the UK, compared to other European Countries:

 

  • 7% of the care population achieve 5 good GCSEs compared with 70% of general population
  • If in care a child is 8 times more likely to be excluded from school and 12 x more likely to end up in prison
  • 35% of 19 years olds, having been in care, will not be in education or training  – compared with 6% of general population
  • A young adult having been in care is twice as likely to become a teenage parent – creating the family they crave
  • Just under half of those having been in care/in care have mental health issues compared with 1 in 10 of general population
  • In England 6 out of 100 care leavers will go on to higher education.  In Denmark 6 out of 10 care leavers go in to Higher Education.

 

In the UK we spend over £3bn per year on the 90,000 children in care and yet the outcomes are so poor. 

The reasons why children initially come in to care are not because of their behaviour, but more often because no one is able to care for them:

 

  • 62% of children are taken into care because they are experiencing abuse or neglect
  • 14% because of family dysfunction
  • 6% due to absent parenting
  • 9% because they come from a family in acute distress
  • 4% because of a parents illness of disability
  • 3% because of a child’s disability
  • 2% are taken into care because of their own socially unacceptable behaviour

 

The KPMG Foundation believes that the care system could be much improved and are currently working in partnership with The Fostering Network to demonstrate how it can be improved.

 

We believe that to enable a child to thrive within the care system, they must be provided with strong, stable and loving relationships with their carers.  Often, because of the background experiences of these children they  need understanding and compassion to help them make sense of their lives.  Foster Carers in particular have a crucial role of play. At the present time the support and training provided to foster carers is often inadequate.  The KPMG Foundation, with Fostering Network, is demonstrating how a framework of Social Pedagogy can support foster carers in supporting the children they care for.  Social Pedagogy is common in Continental Europe and is the subject you study, to degree level, if you wish to work in social care. 

 

One person described Social Work as the profession who decide WHAT needs to be done, Social Pedagogy describes HOW it will be done.  For more information on the programme please refer to the Fostering Network tab under ‘projects we fund’.

 

Amanda, a foster carer, shares her experience of Social Pedagogy

 

Social Pedagogy has helped me increase my confidence when explaining methods of working with Brian.  It’s helped me explain things to professional people – people in education, physiologists, health workers, doctors, social workers and other foster carers.  It is imperative we ALL understand the foundation of security that is essential for Brian to grow, have confidence, develop, learn, interact and be a little boy WITHOUT WORRIES.

Social Pedagogy has helped me learn to ‘dance’.  To start with I didn’t know how Brian’s dance or the rhythm he was working at and likewise Brian didn’t know my dance and we had to learn to dance together.  I had to be flexible, fluid and authentic with Brian – I had to be consistent but I needed the support and consistency of all the people concerned with Brian’s life and welfare.

 

When I met Brian he was hollow, tired, frightened, sad, scared, worried, anxious and very cross.

 

The little boy I met two and a half years ago is now flourishing and learning, he is enthusiastic, funny, creative and attends clubs.  This is not just because of my input but also my husband, daughters, son-in-law, friends, link workers, teachers, health professionals, dentists, playground staff – they have all played a pat.  Not necessarily everyone was on board to start off with, in fact as a family we have been criticised because people haven’t understood the work we do.  Not realising that without consistency and predictability Brian becomes anxious and his behaviour is misinterpreted.

 

As a family we have embraced the responsibility we chose to accept with Brian.  We have learned to dance together and some days we dance a slow waltz and other days Brian has me breakdancing but we will learn as many dances as it takes for Brian to develop to his full potential in a child-centred home supported by people who genuinely care about his future.