Children's commissioner Anne Longfield introduces the #CareExpConf reports
A new report into the views of care experienced people of all ages must be “heard by those in power and influence”, according to the Children’s Commissioner for England.
Anne Longfield said the report - which was compiled after the first UK conference of its kind was held at Liverpool Hope University in April - is a “must read” for developing a better care system.
More than 150 care experienced people aged between 14 and 82 attended the conference to share their powerful, authentic accounts of key issues, and discussed ways to support people better in the future.
“What matters now this report is heard and listened to properly by those in positions of power and influence,” said Ms Longfield.
“We have seen a better focus on listening to children in care and those leaving care in recent years and we can see the very positive effect that this has had upon thinking and decision-making.
“But now it’s time that the voice of care experienced people of all ages is heard. Their wisdom and lived experience can add a hugely valuable perspective to the voice of children in care.
“The richness of their views is captured in these important reports. They are a ‘must read’ for anyone who cares about the experiences of children in care.”
Also published today is a companion report compiled by researchers in the field, collaborating with care experienced people, aimed at influencing academic research and thinking for the future.
Ian Dickson, chair of the Care Experienced Conference group, will officially present both reports to Liverpool Hope University's Professor in Social Work Michael Lavalette on Thursday (October 3) at the launch of the University's new School of Social Sciences.
Mr Dickson said the publication of the reports means "the genie is now out of the bottle".
“It’s fitting that the launch of these two reports takes place at Liverpool Hope University who have been such strong supporters of this conference," he said.
“This is a seminal moment for the care experience community. For the first time we have found our voice. Care experienced people of all ages are saying loud and clear what the important issues are for them and how things can be improved for the future.
"Let’s hope that people are listening and that the messages from this conference can drive better arrangements for the future.
“One of the most striking features of this conference was how much the people who came, cared about others and wanted to ensure that things could be better for the future.
"The genie is out of the bottle - never again will those in power be able to say that they do not know what needs to be done!”
Jamie Crabb a member of the organising group said: “Attending the conference was a moving experience. To feel the warmth and support of so many other people with care experienced from such diverse backgrounds was a life changing experience for me.”
Dr Catriona Hugman, who led the academic strand of the conference, said the care system is generally “under-researched” when taking into account all age groups.
“Whilst there has been some influential research into the experience of care, generally speaking this is an under researched field and current research only includes people with care-experience up to the age of 25-years-old,” she said.
"Gathering together so many academics who are passionate about this area of work, many of whom of her experienced of themselves, was a wonderful opportunity to set a new level for the future.”
“It was really innovative to have people with care experience aged between 14 and 82 sharing their life experiences of before, whilst in, and after care.
“The reports mark the beginning of what I hope are the fruits of this conference: collaboration, partnership and community amongst individuals of all ages to improve the experience of children and young people in and leaving care. We know that this report will go on to further academic research in this field.”
Professor Lavalette said the conference was “game-changing.”
“We were delighted to be able to host this game changing conference,” he said.
“We have a thriving social work department here and are proud to employ a number of care experience staff.
"Our staff and students were pleased to be able to support this conference and gained a great deal of knowledge and experience from doing so.
“I’m delighted to be part of launching the publication of this report and know that it will make a lasting impact on how to understand and support people who are or who have been in care”
Note to editors
There are estimated to be 400.000 people in the population who spent time in the care
system as children.
There are more than 75,000 children in care in England