23 April 2007

Local authorities putting young people at risk

Whenever the state claims particular expertise or authority about children and young people, it's both instructive and depressing to see how well it discharges its responsibilities for those young people unfortunate enough to find themselves in its care.

I'm willing to accept that many of these children and young people have been badly damaged by the events that necessitated their going into local authority care in the first place and that this may well be a factor in their low educational achievements and the high danger they'll find themselves in trouble with the law at some stage, but it's not really an explanation for this kind of thing, reported in The Guardian today:

One in six young people leaving care is being placed in unsuitable or unsafe accommodation because of "poor" local authority planning, according to a report published today.

In some cases, vulnerable young people were put in danger by being placed in substandard housing where they were harassed and bullied by other tenants.

The young people's charity Rainer, which published the report (pdf) fears the wellbeing of many care leavers is being jeopardised by the problem.

Some found themselves living next to drug addicts and mental health patients after being placed in accommodation by the local authority. Others ended up miles away from work or training and effectively cut off from friends and other support, the study found.[...]

There is also evidence that young people feel they have no choice but to accept unsuitable accommodation or run the risk of being declared "intentionally homeless" and receiving no further help.

Becoming homeless is one of the top ten concerns of young people leaving care and up to one in three rough sleepers spent time in local authority care as a child.
Strikes me that it would be a good idea for the state to set about properly discharging its responsibilities to those children and young people for whom it is most directly responsible before it even thinks about taking charge of the lives of any others. I mean, if an individual treated his own children in so cavalier a fashion, he's not really the sort of person you'd consider an authority on what's best for your teenage children, is he?

1 comment:

Fabian Tassano said...

"it would be a good idea for the state to set about properly discharging its responsibilities ... before it even thinks about taking charge of the lives of any others."

Quite. Another case of New Labour lurching from initiative to initiative. Each failure-slash-fiasco leads, not to anyone thinking "hang on, let's sort this one out", but to "hey, let's think up another one, it will help to distract attention from the failures".