Letter: Child victims of failed foster care

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The Independent Online
Sir: The recent revelation that social services departments are losing track of children ("The disappeared of Middle England", 9 November) is only one flaw of many to be found in the state care of children. A serious and dangerous decay in child-care social work has been taking place over recent years. Both funding shortfall and current policy are to blame. Insufficient training in children's work aggravates the situation.

It is popularly believed that children in care now have the "advantage" of foster care instead of residential care. A few do enjoy that advantage, but very many children are now moving from one unsuitable (because badly matched) foster home to another, time and time again. I meet children of 10 years old who have had 10 foster homes since the age of five. My record is a 14-year-old with more than 20 moves. Many such children can attach to no one. They run off and "get lost".

Social services have accepted the fiction that this kind of "care" is better than the careful planning and assessment which used to be available in reception centres.

I am also troubled to discover that many social workers openly admit to having little specialist knowledge of child care or child development.

It is time for a full inquiry into the treatment of children by social services departments, and the training of social workers in child care.

KENNETH REDGRAVE

Consultant in Child Care

Northwich,

Cheshire

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