Government response to Sir Martin Narey’s Independent Review of Residential Care
Children who are looked after by their local authority deserve the very best care that we can give them. I have high ambitions for these children, just as ambitious as those that good parents have for their own children. I want all children, when they are in care and once they have left care to have good health and wellbeing, including recovery from previous experiences; to fulfil their educational potential, leading to employment; and to build and maintain lasting relationships and participate positively in society.
Central to achieving these ambitions is the need for children in care to have stability in their lives: be that stability of placement, relationships or educational experience. We also know that the carer is hugely important to young people achieving these ambitions as they are the ones who spend the most time with the young person on a day to day basis.
This is especially true for children who are placed in children’s homes who often have particularly complex needs and challenges which we should take specific care to address. Children’s homes provide homes to some of the most vulnerable children in society. Regrettably, their challenges have all too often been compounded by the failure of earlier placements to meet their needs.
Last year the government asked Sir Martin Narey to conduct an independent review of residential care. His report paints a positive picture of the care that children’s homes provide. I am grateful to him for his considered report.
I am glad that Sir Martin describes such a positive picture of life for children in children’s homes. I agree that they can be the right option for some children, particularly if they are used early, as part of a well thought-through long-term plan, and taking into account children’s wishes and needs, or for additional therapeutic support to bring stability to a child’s life. We therefore need to ensure that children’s homes are of the highest possible standard and deliver the best possible outcomes for the children who call them home.
Sir Martin has made a series of recommendations which, taken together, I am confident will build on the progress already made and lead to sustained improvement to children’s homes. I want all those involved in children’s homes, in central government, local government, and the wider sector to take Sir Martin’s report as a programme of work for the next few years. This response sets out what government will do, but I am clear that to have the impact that Sir Martin suggests then we will need to work fully in partnership with all those who are involved in the work of children’s homes.
Finally, I want to pay tribute to the thousands of people who work in children’s homes up and down the country. They often have a hugely challenging role but they do an incredible job, providing care and support to thousands of children, often with quite intense needs. It is they who spend time getting to know the young people in their care, understanding what makes them tick and supporting them to fulfil their potential. I am incredibly grateful to them.