Opinion Former Article

TACT: Report on care and crime shows how children in care are being let down

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by Gareth Crossman, Executive Director of External Affairs, TACTCare

Report on care and crime shows how children in care are being let down

A report by the Inspectorate of Probation, which says children in care who have been in trouble with the law are being failed by youth offending teams, makes for worrying reading.

It is important to acknowledge initially that this report only relates to a small percentage of children in care. Over 90 per cent of looked after children will not come into contact with the criminal justice system while in care. It is necessary to emphasise this as it is easy to be given the impression from media coverage linking care and crime that the care system is a fast track to criminality.

This is not to play down the seriousness of the reports findings. In particular the report focuses on children who had been in trouble with the police, or who were in danger of criminalisation, being placed long distances from their homes or experiencing multiple placements. TACT’s research published jointly with the University of East Anglia earlier this year, ‘Looked after Children and Offending: Reducing Risk and Promoting Resilience’, highlights some of the dangers that can lead to entry into the criminal justice system. Poor experiences in care, such as those highlighted in the report, run the risk of long term damage to well being, criminalisation and other negative results.

Crucially, however, TACT’s research also shows that a positive and well managed experience in care, particularly following adolescent entry into the system, can greatly enhance resilience and act as a barrier to criminalisation. Put simply, care works.

It is shocking that some of society’s most vulnerable children are being treated in this way. Children coming into care are likely to have experienced abuse or neglect before care so it is vital that they are given the support and security they need and crave. Without this, it is little wonder that things can and do go wrong.

As the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity TACT provides loving families for children in care. Time after time we have seen lives transformed though positive care experiences and our young people becoming successful adults. All children in care deserve this chance.

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