'The investment of a lifetime report'

Is the economic spend on the care system in the UK bringing about the outcomes and flourishing for children and young people that we want to see?

Home for Good is absolutely committed to improving the wellbeing, experiences and opportunities available to children who interact with the care system. We know that the majority of children who enter the care system have experienced abuse or neglect, and all have experienced the trauma of loss, separation and instability, which will have a lifelong impact. Our vision is of a care system where children are thriving within homes that are havens and where every child has a family by their side at all times. We know that where this happens, children can begin to flourish, feeling stable and secure, and can go on to thrive as active members of our society.

A new report is being published today, co-launched by PwC and Home for Good, which explores the economic cost of the care system in the UK and, significantly, is this spend bringing about the outcomes and flourishing for children and young people that we want to see?

Economic analysis conducted by PwC has found that £8.8billion is spent annually on children in the care system and their outcomes, with around one third of this spent on the intergenerational cycle, where children entering care have at least one parent who was in care themselves. The vast majority of the overall cost is spent on providing homes for the 103,000 children in care across the UK, as well as the additional services and support for those children such as Pupil Premium Plus and family justice services.

But the report also outlines how £2billion is spent on the outcomes of care leavers, which includes the cost of providing ongoing mental health support, homelessness services, welfare support and engagement with the criminal justice system. The need for such a spend in all these areas is clear evidence of the answer to the key question around whether children are flourishing in the care system – devastatingly, this suggests that they are not.

These poor outcomes are at odds with the huge ambition and dedication shown by professionals, families, carers and officials who work tirelessly every day to support young people in care. But the impact of their efforts is held back by a system that is not a product of conscious design and does not work effectively as a whole. There are many pockets of good practice, but the system is often fragmented and not joined up enough in its aims, resourcing or support. Too little attention and investment is being made in tackling the root causes of children entering care or preparing those who are in care for the future and life beyond the care system.

The report states clearly that no one part of the system holds the responsibility or the ability to fix the challenges that exist by themselves and this report is not intended to cast blame on any one part or player, but rather it emphasises that we will only see children and young people across the board enabled to flourish in care and beyond if a holistic, society-wide approach is taken.

As Home for Good, we are committed to playing our part in bringing about this much-needed change. Already, we are inspiring and coordinating churches, networks, movements and individuals across the UK to play their part in caring and supporting vulnerable children and off the back of today’s role, we want to continue this convening and inspiring role among the voluntary and community sector. We intend on building on the insights laid out within this report to develop our own recommendations along with others in the voluntary sector about the part we can play in ‘levelling up’ the opportunities available to our country’s most vulnerable children and young people.

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Click here to read the report

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