The Commission on Young Lives has released a report on teenagers at risk revealing a care system stretched to its limits and failing to protect our young people.
The Commission, headed by Anne Longfield, previously Children’s Commissioner for England suggests the current system is handing over some children to criminals and abusers rather than protecting them by moving them away from their families and communities, moving them too frequently from placement to placement and continuing to place them in accommodation that puts them at risk of harm - sometimes alongside adults and those involved with drugs and crime.
The report shows how an over-reliance on a limited number of residential places where demand significantly outstrips supply, inadequate early identification of those children at risk of exploitation, cuts to funding for early intervention programmes, outdated fostering models, a broken children's home 'market' and the frequent criminalisation of children in the care system is allowing too many children in care to fall into danger.
Longfield said "A children's social care system that is supposed to protect vulnerable teenagers is frequently putting them in even greater danger. Often, we may as well be handing over children directly to ruthless gangs and criminals. It is unfit for purpose.
"We know the number of vulnerable teenagers at risk of exploitation entering the care system is becoming older, with more complex and expensive needs, and growing. We also know this is putting an enormous strain on the whole children's social care system. The recent horrific murders of two young children show the tragic consequence of a child protection system stretched to its absolute limit.
"Resetting children's social care in this new offer for teenagers will require determined action and some funding, but it is clear there are huge benefits not only to those vulnerable young people who need protection, but also to the public purse.
"We need a new offer for vulnerable teenagers in care and on the edge of care, and this report provides one."
Read the full report here