News Date: Tuesday 19th September 2006

Loughton: Government failing to be 'pushy parent' to looked after children.

In a speech earlier today on 'Reducing the number of looked after children in custody', Shadow Children's Minister Tim Loughton set out the Conservative Party's vision for the state to take on the role of 'pushy parent' for children in care.

It is a scandal that after nine and half years in power the Government have made no progress towards improving the outcomes for children in the care of the state. Only 1 in 10 looked after children get five GCSEs compared to 6 out of 10 of all children, looked after children are sixty-six times more likely to have their own children taken into care and most alarmingly, 46% of children in custody have passed through the care system.

Tim commented:

"Labour has had nearly a decade to put in progress work which would lift many of these children out of the cycle of deprivation and ensure they have the same opportunities as our own children yet only now, ten years on, we have been promised a green paper on looked after children. These children have a right to a better life and shouldn't have to wait any longer for the Government to get their act together. Tony Blair's speech at the beginning of September which admitted many of the problems looked after children face was an admission of ten years of failure and neglect.

"The Government's latest initiative to hand out BASBOs - or baby-ASBOs reveals a worrying lack of understanding of the array of problems facing looked after children in today's society. It is ironic that having admitted that the state has a disastrous track record as a parent the Prime Minister's recent lecture on social exclusion envisages early intervention in the form of sending in snatch squads of hopelessly overstretched and unloved social workers, to take children into care barely before the umbilical cord is severed, in order to condemn them to a woefully inadequate upbringing of state parenting.

"The Government has been complicit in the neglect and demonisation of social workers. We need a re-energised, better qualified and properly resourced social workforce who are optimistic about what these children can do. It is not rocket science to know that moving children from home to home, changing their school every year and not to mention changing their foster carers or social workers is not the way to provide the support these children need.

"If children cannot gain stability from living with their birth parents we must ensure that all options to place them with their extended family are explored before they are whisked away to a children's centre miles away from all of their blood relations. The Government must not undervalue the role that grandparents and siblings can play in lives of those children who have been taken into care.

"Properly trained child social workers must become pushy-parents to looked after children - they must stand up for the best interests of that child at all times, challenge mediocrity and provide motivation for these children to succeed. It is a false economy not to provide this level of support. Unless we do we are storing up long term crime problems which will cost society dear."

ENDS

Note to Editor:

1) Tim Loughton MP's speech was made this morning to the Care and Health conference Meeting the Challenge: Reducing the number of looked after children in Custody.

Tim Loughton MP , 2006

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