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Children in Care

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has for the implementation of his Department's Care Matters proposals; and if he will make a statement. (247255)

The Care Matters implementation plan was published in March 2008, jointly with members of the Children's Inter-agency Group and other partners including Local Government Association including and Association of Directors for Children's Services. Since then:

We received Royal Assent in November 2008 for the Children and Young Persons Act which provides the legislative basis for many of the reforms.

We have launched nine sets of pilots set out in Care Matters and will shortly launch the Social Work Practices and the Social Pedagogy pilots.

Regional conferences have taken place across England to begin the implementation of care matters reforms. A number of regions are currently holding sub-regional conferences;

Future plans include:

Implementation of the Children and Young Persons Act along with supporting regulations and guidance, over the next year.

We will continue to work closely with partners across sectors to drive up improvements in outcomes for looked after children, building on the new inspection framework being developed by Ofsted, work by the Centre for Excellence in Outcomes and sector led initiatives.

We will review progress in an annual ministerial stocktake, with the first in autumn 2009. The stocktake will give us the opportunity to evaluate progress and ensure we are on track to deliver our aims for children in care. A short report will be laid before Parliament after each stocktake.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to improve the educational support and stability of life of looked-after children. (247470)

Through the White Paper “Care Matters: Time for Change” and the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 the Government have put in place a range of measures to improve the educational support and placement stability of looked after children. This includes an annual personal education allowance of £500 for looked after children who are at risk of not reaching the expected standards of attainment.

To ensure that looked after children get the support they need to help them achieve their potential the governing body of all maintained schools will be required to appoint a designated teacher, and care leavers who undertake a course in higher education will be entitled to a bursary of £2,000.

We are also strengthening care planning arrangements to reduce disruption to education and training as a result of changes in care placements. Through initiatives such as the Fostering Changes training programme and the Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care and Social Pedagogy pilots we are also taking action to help improve the range of support and skills for foster carers and residential workers to help them meet the needs of looked after children to prevent placement breakdown.