Children in care to receive better support

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The Independent Online

Children in care are to be given extra savings funds, guaranteed places in top-performing schools and bursaries to help them through university under proposals in a government Green Paper.

Foster parents are also to be paid salaries for the first time and subjected to regulations similar to social workers in a bid to improve the standard of care offered to the most vulnerable young people.

The Education Secretary, Alan Johnson, admitted that the 60,000 children in care "have been failed by the system". Three-quarters have no educational qualifications and only one in 100 goes to university.

One in four looked-after girls has been pregnant by the time she is 16 and half are single mothers within two years of leaving the care system. Half of all prisoners under 25 have been in care.

The Green Paper proposes forcing top-performing schools to take children in care, even if they are already over-subscribed. It will also give social workers an extra £500 a year to spend on a child's educational needs. Children in the system who go on to university will receive a £2,000 bursary.

Mr Johnson said: "Children in care already face a tougher life than any child should have to. As a proxy parent, the state must raise its ambitions for these children." A consultation period will follow.

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