Two teenage girls and a teenage boy smiling walking down the street

What needs to change in the care system according to young people

Published on
08 August 2023

We spoke to Tia, 18, about her experiences in care and views on the Government’s approach to reforming the children’s social care system.

When the Government ran a consultation inviting feedback on its plans to change the social care system in England, we got to work creating our response to try to influence positive changes. We spoke to our experts and young people who have been through the care system themselves, to find out what they wanted the Government to change. One of those young people, Tia, explains what she thinks needs to change to improve the care system for young people who experience living in and leaving care. 

The Government needs to support care leavers more 

“Currently too many care leavers must rely upon their own sense and are not being supported enough,” Tia explains.   

“Coming fresh out of care at 18 to living alone is a hard gap to bridge. We can claim universal credit but that does not go far at all. This is more of a problem recently as the cost-of-living crisis means that some prices have increased by 20% but universal credit is not increasing by the same rate, leaving us in a deficit,” she said. 

The Government has a duty of care towards children and young people who are in or are leaving the care system. To better support young people leaving care and taking their first steps into adulthood, we are calling for more financial support for care leavers.  

Tia also thinks that the Government should be putting money into supporting care leavers in their education with things like apprenticeships and young people’s hobbies and interests, to support care leavers in doing what they love and developing skills that can help them access jobs and training in future. 

The Government should talk to, and ask children and young people about, plans for children’s social care 

Tia thinks it’s important not only that the Government talks to young people with lived experience of the care system, but that they ensure they are making it easy for young people to be involved in the plans for what it should look like in the future. She suggests that the Government should be reactive, flexible and adaptable in its approach when talking to children and young people about the future of social care.

No one thing will work for everyone.

Tia, young person 

Tia emphasised a need for consultations to be communicated in accessible language; so those who will be most affected, the children and young people in care, can also understand, interact, and question the proposed changes. 

“It is important that when people ask for our options about plans for the future of children’s social care, they are adaptable and easy to adjust for children of different ages and those with diverse needs.” 

“Children and young people [should be] given things that are easy to read. This consultation document may be aimed at young people, but it is too dense, and I found it a real struggle reading it” she said.

The experience of being in care shouldn’t define who you are 

Whenever someone asks me “who are you?”, care leaver is not the first thing that comes to mind because it is not who I am.

Tia, young person 

Children and young people who have been in care do not want this experience to define them. We sometimes use the term ‘care experienced’ for this reason, as young people we work with tell us they dislike the term ‘care leaver’.    

Tia and other young people like her that work with Barnardo’s, are helping to make these changes happen, to help ensure that more children and young people get the support they need in the care system and beyond. 

You can support Tia and other care-experienced young people by following our campaigns calling for change in the care system. 

How does Barnardo’s support care-experienced children and young people?  

We’re helping to shape and improve the system for all children, at every stage of their lives. 

From providing specialist services to advocacy and campaigning, working with children and young people in the care system is a big part of what we do here at Barnardo’s. 

Working so closely with children and young people means we hear their experiences and the challenges they face first-hand. We listen to them and use their views to shape our work on helping to improving the social care system for all children. 

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