Original article by Dawn Howley appeared in the Guardian, 29 September 2010
An article in the Guardian this week highlighted the need for long-term thinking on the issue of social justice. Dawn Howley, who has experience of the care system herself, writes:
Some 38% of looked-after children still leave care before their 18th birthday, and poor provision means they often return to services, via the criminal justice system or prostitution. It is staggering to think that 80% of Big Issue sellers were in care.
Howley asks, in these 'austerity times' whether those cuts being made are poised to rebound on us in the future with unforeseen and exponential consequences. The short-term gains to be made from cutting resources in the social care system, from early years education and prevention/intervention schemes (seen in the current unsure position of Sure Start) are exactly the cuts that will condemn 'at risk' children to a life of restricted opportunity.
Brenda Kneafsey, of IAYPIC, spoke at IPRT's Shifting Focus conference last week about her work as an Aftercare Coordinator. Brenda highlighted the gap between young people leaving care and establishing themselves, which negatively affects so many young people in care as they fall through the cracks on leaving the system. Planning for the future, asking simple but crucial questions such what a young person intends to do at Christmas can make the difference for many.
Howley, in her article, asks what David Cameron's 'Big Society' will do for those young people leaving care without prospects - painting the State in a parental role, she criticises the failings felt by only the most disadvantaged children.