Children in Care

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to improve the life chances of children taken into care.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government is committed to ensuring that all children taken into care have the best possible chances in life.

We have given looked after children top priority in school admissions to ensure they have access to the very best schools and their education is supported through the expertise and leadership of local authority Virtual School Heads (VSHs). VSHs are directly accountable for the educational outcomes of looked-after children and receive pupil premium plus funding to work with schools to support the education of individual children and the cohort as a whole. Pupil premium plus funding is £2,300 per child in 2019/20 rising to £2,345 in 2020/21. In addition, in recognition of the importance of ensuring that the mental health and wellbeing needs of looked-after children are identified, we are investing over £1 million to pilot high quality mental health assessments for children entering care.

The support does not stop when children leave care. Building on the measures already introduced through the cross-government care leaver strategy, in October 2019 we announced a further £19 million in 2020/21 to improve care leavers’ outcomes, including £10 million to expand Staying Put, so more care leavers can continue to live with their former foster carers until age 21 and £6 million to begin rolling out Staying Close, which provides extra support for young people leaving residential care. We are also providing £3 million to improve support for care leavers in further education.

The announcement also set out plans to establish a cross-government ministerial board to drive improved support for care leavers and a target to secure 1,000 public sector internships for care leavers by 2022.

The government also confirmed in February that it would carry out an independent review of the care system to make sure that all care placements and settings are providing children and young adults with the support they need so that they have the best possible chance to succeed in life.

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